HMRC unveils top 10 worst tax excuses

Monday 5 January 2015

Ahead of the deadline for tax returns, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has released a list of some of the worst excuses that it has received for missing the date.

Taxpayers have until January 31st to pay their tax returns. Among the people who need to have the money sent to HMRC by this date are limited company contractors and sole traders. These people have been told to let the taxman know if they have a genuine reason why they are unable to make the deadline.

In the lead up to the deadline, HMRC has been issuing reminders to help people remember to pay up on time. Sometimes, in the lead up to the deadline, the taxman releases a humorous list of the worst excuses that it has received. For readers, this offers a light-hearted prompt for them to pay their taxes.

Among the people blamed for tax returns being filed late were girlfriends, foreign intelligence agencies, work colleagues and even US President Barack Obama.

One excuse was that a person's pet dog ate their tax return as well as all the reminders. Another animal related reason was that the person had been too busy looking after some fox cubs and a flock of escaped parrots to file their return and pay it.

Some blamed location for their failure to file and pay on time. Excuses included that one person was up a mountain in Wales and unable to find a postbox or get an internet signal, another said they are living in a camper van in a supermarket car park, one claimed that they had been travelling the world in a bid to escape a foreign intelligence agency and one more said that they were in Australia.

The other excuses in the list were the the person got involved with the wrong crowd, that Mr Obama is in control of their finances, that their work colleague had asked to borrow their tax return so that they could photocopy it and failed to give it back or even that their girlfriend is pregnant.

All of these excuses were used to launch appeals against penalties they had received from HMRC for late filing and payment. Unsurprisingly, all of these appeals were unsuccessful.

Speaking about the excuses on the list, HMRC director general of personal tax Ruth Owen said: "People can have a genuine excuse for missing a tax deadline, but owning a pet with a taste for HMRC envelopes isn’t one of them.

"You need to file your 2013/14 tax return online, and pay what you owe, by 31 January. But it’s best to do it now, to allow plenty of time to sort out any issues with your return. That way, you’ll avoid the busy period for our phone lines as the deadline approaches."

HMRC also reminded people due to submit their tax returns that they are now only able to do so online for the year 2013/14 and the paper-filing deadline, which was on October 31st 2014, has now passed.

By Victoria McDonnell

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