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Some of my clients often give some odd excuses for handing in records late, but it appears some also have also taken a similar tack with the Revenue.

And just to prove that someone in the tax office has a sense of humour, with the 31st January deadline looming; HMRC has published a list of the oddest excuses received from those individuals who failed to file on time, ranging from a dead goldfish to an altercation with a randy bull.

And to quote directly from the HMRC press release, “The following bizarre, exotic and flimsy excuses have all been used by tardy taxpayers”. The list includes:

  1. My pet goldfish died and I was traumatised (Geordie self-employed builder)
  2. I had a run-in with my prize bull because he wouldn’t accept that he couldn’t service the cows (Shropshire farmer)
  3. After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else (London travel agent)
  4. After a big row my wife refused to give me my mail (self-employed trader – Stoke)
  5. My husband told me the deadline was 31st March. As he was my husband 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, where my tax return is kept (Liverpool taxi driver)
  8. My dog did a whoopsie on my records and I was too embarrassed to take them to the accountant (Oxford beautician)
  9. I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only pick up post when I’m on dry land (Surrey businessman)
  10. Our business doesn’t really do anything so we didn’t think we had to bother (Kent financial services firm)
  11. I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns to bother with my own (London accountant)
  12. The Post Office removed our local postbox so I had nowhere to post it (Cornish publican)
  13. I didn’t file my tax return for 2012 because I was afraid it would draw attention to the fact that I had not sent one in for 2010 or 2011 (Birmingham barrister)

And my personal favourite:

“I was in hospital as I had an accident due to waving to a person I had knocked down the previous week”
– A Kent butcher

mexican guy in straw trilby with thumbs up

Good Luck with those excuses

And it appears the festive season didn’t prove to be an impediment to many individuals from filing their tax return as over the three-day Christmas period, the figure filed rose 12% on last year to 23,059, with a mind-boggling 4,349 people actually submitting their tax returns on Christmas morning. What sad lives some people lead!

The HMRC press release has attracted a fair bit of comment on Twitter where HMRC’s director general of personal tax, Ruth Owen, tweeted: “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.”

It won’t surprise you to learn that everyone in the above list did not have their excuse accepted as being reasonable and all received a £100 late filing penalty.

David Jones is the Senior Partner and Founder of Morgan Jones & Company. Born in Liverpool and an Accountancy graduate of the University of Wolverhampton, David spent twenty years working for the Customs & Excise in London then Shrewsbury before starting his own business. David’s depth of knowledge of the UK tax system and his ability to communicate this learning has seen Morgan Jones & Company grow into Shropshire’s most respected Accountancy Practice. Email David