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Late Tax Return Excuses

It’s that time of year again when HMRC release their latest tranche of excuses given by taxpayers, as to why their Tax Returns were submitted late or ingenious attempts by taxpayers to get dubious claims for expenses past the taxman.

The lists have always amused me, some for their sheer ingenuity and others that are so ridiculous as to be genuinely funny. I am aware of feedback received in the past that these annual Blogs are very popular and are often shared on Facebook and other social media sites.

These annual lists have now been published for a full decade and HMRC has now decided to provide us with their top ten picks of the bunch from the last decade of the top ten most weird and wonderful excuses and expenses claims.

2019 Late Tax Return Excuses

Naturally, a list of excuses for any unaccomplished chore would not be complete without the classic ‘the dog ate my homework’ response. Tax returns, which have been eaten by any variety of household pets over the last decade, will always be a staple alibi for any absent homework.

Of course, other claimants prefer to use a little more imagination when constructing the perfect excuse. An adventure in exotic lands, perhaps? Or just a catastrophe in the kitchen that reminds me of a Marx Brothers film.

The top ten excuses of the decade, why a tax return was not submitted on time:Disney witch apple

  1. I’ve been cruising around the world in my yacht and only picking up post when I’m on dry land
  2. I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a post box or get an internet signal
  3. I’m a cake maker and my oven wouldn’t switch off, the cake exploded which blew off the door, which caused a power surge that blew up my computer
  4. I suffer from dwarfism and can’t reach the slot in the post box
  5. My parrot knocked over my red wine, all over the tax return and the computer keyboard and then ate the return
  6. I had a run-in with my prize bull because he wouldn’t accept that he couldn’t service the cows
  7. I was in hospital as I had an accident due to waving to a person I had knocked down the previous week
  8. I couldn’t send it in electronically as whenever I touch a computer I get a static electric shock. I couldn’t send in a paper copy as I’m allergic to the ink you use, and I couldn’t phone to tell you as I suffer from telephobia
  9. My girlfriend’s pregnant and so is her sister and so is the dog

And finally, we get to number ten, the excuse which HMRC considered to be the best

My mother-in-law is a witch, she’s always in the kitchen with a cauldron bubbling away making weird chanting noises; it’s obvious that she’s put a curse on me

2010s’ top ten dubious claims for an expense

If tax return excuses weren’t enough, HMRC has also provided a list of the most eccentric expense claims of the decade, ranging from chow for a miniature canine guard, to a cheeky caravan rental:

Pet food for my chihuahua guard dog (I bet he’s really scary!)

£600 for a new suit (plumbers have to look their best!)

Claiming £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days (try pasta for a change)

£8,750 for double glazing (you’ve got to be warm to fill in your tax return)

£1,108 for Avon cosmetics (presumably she has to look her best)

£9,760 on a new bathroom (well doesn’t everyone have to pee!)

£400 on fancy underwear, every year for 5 years (apparently it helps creative thought!)

£95 on a child’s trike (he must be one of those Diddymen)

An annual subscription to Penthouse (everyone relaxes in their own special way)

And finally, we get to number ten, the expenses claim that HMRC considered being the most inventive

£2,750 on liposuction, £700 on botox and £350 on lip plumping from a plumber (well you have to look your best!)

Tax Accountant’s Opinion

Image of David Jones Shrewsbury Accountant and Founder of Morgan JonesDespite the special acknowledgement from HMRC, it is worth noting that all the excuses and expenses listed above were unsuccessful. However, recognition is due for the level of imagination and effort that went into these claimants’ creative approach to tax tardiness.

HMRC director general Angela MacDonald said: “Each year, we try to make it as easy and simple as possible for our customers to complete their tax returns. But we still come across some unusual excuses and expenses which range from problems with a mother-in-law to yachts set on fire.”

Keen followers of my regular Blogs on HMRC’s annual list should recognise the ‘my mother-in-law is a witch’ excuse from last year. HMRC had plenty of clunkers to choose from, with many ridiculous claims not making the decade list, including a taxpayer who claimed they couldn’t file because his wife saw aliens and won’t let him leave the house and another claimed a rat stole their tax papers to make a nest.

Unfortunately, it will be a twelve months’ wait until HMRC reveals the next winners of the top ‘bogus claims’, and for most, the wait will be a lot easier than coming up with next year’s ‘extenuating circumstances’ excuses.

HMRC publishes these lists every January to raise awareness of the January 31st self-assessment deadline and remember, penalties for late tax returns start at an initial £100 fixed penalty and after three months increase by £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900.

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.