Menu

HMRC’s Top 10 Worst Excuses For Late Tax Returns

6th January 2017

‘My yacht caught fire’, ‘a wasp attacked me’, and ‘my dog ate it and all the reminders’ feature in a list of the worst excuses for a late tax return that HMRC received this year. Each year, they release this list to highlight the 31 January deadline for filing 2015-16 personal tax returns. However, it makes for interesting reading on what types of reasons HMRC are unlikely to accept.

Who is claiming these?

Notably, most of the list refers to paper tax returns being lost or damaged. For example, ‘a colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and lost it’, ‘my child scribbled all over the tax return’, and tax returns being destroyed in yacht fires or a car accident. (Note that, though the deadline for paper tax returns passed in October, tax returns can still be filed online until 31st January). Others blamed postmen, internet connections, and not finding a new accountant in time.

The numbers who attempt the braver excuses are usually a small minority – unsurprising, given the steep penalty regime: an initial penalty of £100, then £10 per day from three to six months.  However, those wishing to avoid these penalties should beware. A genuine reason for not having had a chance to fill it in will always be accepted, but taking a chance will unlikely get you far, as this list stands to show.

The worst excuses given for late Self Assessment tax returns in 2015

HMRC’s list of the worst excuses given in 2015

If you have a genuine reason

It is important to note that “there will always be help and support available for those who have a genuine excuse”, as according to Ruth Owen, HMRC’s director general of customer services. “If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now – the earlier we’re contacted, the better”, she added though.

If you may be late, tell HMRC as soon as possible. Ensure that you have evidence for being late, then file and pay for the return as soon as you can. These are the best steps you can take to avoiding a penalty. If you are unsure on these, or if you will be late, speak to a chartered tax adviser or accountants. We are happy to help go through the best procedure with you, and can be contacted at 020-7488-3614.