Top 10 oddest excuses for sending in a late tax return

With the January 31st tax return deadline fast approaching, HMRC has revealed the ‘Top 10 oddest excuses’ for sending in a late tax return.

The following bizarre, exotic and flimsy excuses have all been used by tardy taxpayers:

1. My pet goldfish died (self-employed builder);

2. I had a run-in with a cow (Midlands farmer);

3. After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else (London woman);

4. My wife won’t give me my mail (self-employed trader);

5. My husband told me the deadline was 31 March, and I believed him (Leicester hairdresser);

6. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play (Coventry writer);

7. My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is (a working taxi driver);

8. I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land (South East man);

9. Our business doesn’t really do anything (Kent financial services firm); and

10. I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns (London accountant).

All of these people and businesses received a £100 penalty from HMRC for filing late. They appealed against the decision using these excuses, but were unsuccessful.

Ruth Owen, HMRC’s Director General of Personal Tax, said “There will always be unforeseen events that mean a taxpayer could not file their tax return on time. However, your pet goldfish passing away isn’t one of them.”

“If you haven’t yet sent your 2012/13 tax return to HMRC, you need to do it online and pay the tax you owe by the end of January. With all the help and advice available, there’s no excuse not to.”

HMRC have reminded the self-employed that self-assessment returns it receives on or after 31st January will result in an automatic penalty of £100.

If traders still haven’t returned the form to the Revenue after a three-month probation period they can expect to receive a fine of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900.

Once the 90 days are up, and assuming the return is still outstanding, traders will be hit with a further penalty equal to 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater.

The same levy will be imposed for those who still haven’t returned the form after 12 months of missing the deadline.

Self-employed people are also reminded that to file an online tax return they must be registered for HMRC Online Services. This involves HMRC sending an Activation Code in the post, so they should allow a few days for this to arrive.

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