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Last year on January 16th, I posted my third Blog on the subject of excuses given by taxpayers, as to why their Tax Returns were submitted lateand taken from the now annual press release by HMRC.

This year the press release of unusual and unsuccessful excuses used by taxpayers in penalty appeals included excuses ranging from a burning boat to a toddler with a box of crayons. All have been put forward in vain attempts by taxpayers to have their fines wiped out under the ‘reasonable excuse’ provision.

It will not surprise anyone that despite some clearly inventive reasoning, the success rate in appeals was not very high and the 13 excuses published today all failed.

From the feedback received, most of my readers clearly enjoyed reading them, with many being shared on Facebook and other social media sites. So here are this year’s selections of unsuccessful excuses used in penalty appeals.

The List

  1. My tax return was on my yacht, which mysteriously caught fire and everything on it went up in flames
  2. A wasp flew in the window of my car and stung me on my hand which caused me to have an accident and my tax return, which was on the seat beside me, was destroyed
  3. My wife helps me with my tax return, but she suffers from terrible migraines and she developed one on 22nd January which lasted till the 1st February which made me late
  4. My dog doesn’t like our postman and he ate my tax return and also every reminder you sent me
  5. I couldn’t complete my tax return, because my husband unexpectedly left me and not only that, he also took our accountant with him and I haven’t been able to find a new accountant that I like
  6. My two year-old son scribbled all over my tax return with his crayons, so I couldn’t send it back in the state it was in
  7. I work for myself and a neighbour who’d lost his tax return borrowed mine to photocopy it, but the photocopier went ballistic and ate it
  8. My husband is a civil servant and categorically assured me that the deadline was the 5th April
  9. I live in a high rise tower block and the postman doesn’t deliver to my flat when the lifts are broken
  10. My internet connection failed, therefore it was BT’s fault not mine
  11. I do voluntary work with the homeless and winter is our busiest time of the year
  12. The form didn’t put the questions in plain English, so rather than put something down that might be wrong, I didn’t fill it in

Tax Accountant’s Favourite Excuse(s)

And finally, my personal favourite was from a taxpayer in Glasgow who didn’t submit her tax return on time. She clearly believed that if HMRC rejected her first excuse, then if she gave a couple more, at least one would do the trick:

13. I’m an anarchist and reject the arbitrary demands of the state, I suffer from Alopecia and am therefore embarrassed to be out in public. And anyway, I don’t own a computer

The Revenue’s view

Ruth Owen HMRCs head of RTI Shrewsbury Accountants

Ruth Owen

“Blaming the postman, arguing with family members and pesky insects – it’s easy to see that some excuses for not completing a tax return on time can be more questionable than others. Luckily, it’s only a small minority who chance their arm. But there will always be help and support available for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time. If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now – the earlier we’re contacted, the better”.

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Customer Services

Image of David Jones Shrewsbury Accountant and Founder of Morgan Jones

If you would like more detailed information on some aspect of UK Tax, send me an e-mail and I’ll be pleased to advise further.