If you’re registered for Self-Assessment with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), you must submit your online Tax Return by midnight on 31 January.

In January 2017, 840,000 taxpayers missed the online filing deadline, with the majority incurring at least a £100 penalty for late submission. If you are late in filing your Self Assessment tax return you may avoid the fine if you have a “reasonable excuse” for late filing, resulting in many people attempting to come up with one to save the fine.

In the run up to the self-assessment deadline HMRC publish their annual list of the worst excuses received for late tax returns. In this blog, we have compiled the silliest apologies ranging from the classic “dog ate my tax return” and “my pet goldfish died” excuses to the creative heights of haunting volcano eruption images.

Blaming the Animal Kingdom

  • I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs.
  • A wasp in my car caused me to have an accident and my tax return, which was inside, was destroyed.
  • I had a run-in with a cow.
  • My pet goldfish died.
  • My dog ate my tax return…and all the reminders.
  • My tax papers were left in the shed and the rat ate them.

Blame the Family

People hangout together at coffee shop

  • My niece had moved in – she made the house so untidy I could not find my log-in details to complete my return online.
  • My husband ran over my laptop.
  • I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for 5 years.
  • I couldn’t complete my tax return because my husband left me and took our accountant with him. I am currently trying to find a new accountant.
  • My wife helps me with my tax return, but she had a headache for ten days.
  • My girlfriend’s pregnant.

Fiery Yachts, Volcano and Only Yourself to Blame

volcano eruption

  • I fell in with the wrong crowd.
  • Our business doesn’t really do anything.
  • I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.
  • I’m an anarchist and reject the arbitrary demands of the state, I also suffer from Alopecia and am therefore embarrassed to be out in public. And anyway, I don’t own a computer.
  • After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.
  • My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is.
  • I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a post box or get an internet signal.
  • I’ve been cruising around the world in my yacht and only picking up post when I’m on dry land.
  • My tax return was on my yacht…which caught fire.

What is a reasonable excuse?

office desk with a figurine

Sometimes life events can happen that are far beyond anyone’s control and this, naturally, can affect your ability to successfully complete your return on time. It is still possible to appeal certain penalties incurred by late submission of your tax return, as long as your excuse fits one of the following criteria devised by HMRC:

  • The death of a partner;
  • An unplanned hospital stay;
  • Computer failure during the process of submitting your tax return;
  • Service disruptions on behalf of HMRC;
  • A fire;
  • Unexpected postal disruptions.

Unfortunately, the hungry pet excuse is unlikely to avoid a late submission penalty. Similarly, using the word ‘fire’ in an improbable context might not be enough to convince HMRC.

If you are needing help with your tax returns and struggle to finish your self assessment before the end of January, we are here to help. Bring your yacht into port and contact our friendly accountants on 0141 334 1318 or email us at hello@bnassociates.co.uk