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Revenue reveals ‘Top 10 oddest excuses’ for late tax returns

Press Release   •   Jan 02, 2014 10:16 GMT

With the 31 January tax return deadline just around the corner, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has revealed the ‘Top 10 oddest excuses’ for sending in a late return.

The following bizarre, exotic and flimsy excuses have all been used by tardy taxpayers:

1.  My pet goldfish died (self-employed builder);

2.  I had a run-in with a cow (Midlands farmer);

3.  After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else (London woman);

4.  My wife won’t give me my mail (self-employed trader);

5.  My husband told me the deadline was 31 March, and I believed him (Leicester hairdresser);

6.  I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play (Coventry writer);

7.  My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is (a working taxi driver);

8.  I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land (South East man);

9.  Our business doesn’t really do anything (Kent financial services firm); and

10.  I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns (London accountant).

All of these people and businesses received a £100 penalty from HMRC for filing late. They appealed against the decision using these excuses, but were unsuccessful.

HMRC’s Director General of Personal Tax, Ruth Owen, said:

“There will always be unforeseen events that mean a taxpayer could not file their tax return on time. However, your pet goldfish passing away isn’t one of them.”

“If you haven’t yet sent your 2012/13 tax return to HMRC, you need to do it online and pay the tax you owe by the end of January. With all the help and advice available, there’s no excuse not to.”

To send an online tax return, you must be registered for HMRC Online Services. This involves HMRC sending you an Activation Code in the post, so allow a few days for this to arrive. To register for HMRC Online Services go to www.hmrc.gov.uk/online and follow the on-screen instructions.

For general help and advice on completing a return, visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/sa or call the Self Assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310 (open 8.00am to 8.00pm, Monday to Friday, and from 8.00am to 4.00pm on Saturdays).

Notes for editors

1.  Around 10.9 million people are expected to fill out a Self Assessment return for the 2012/13 tax year.

2.  The penalties for late Self Assessment returns are:

  • an initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time;
  • after 3 months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900;
  • after 6 months, a further penalty of 5 per cent of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater; and
  • after 12 months, another 5 per cent or £300 charge, whichever is greater.

3.  There are also additional penalties for paying late of 5 per cent of the tax unpaid at: 30 days; 6 months; and 12 months.

4.  Follow HMRC on Twitter @HMRCgovuk


Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.