Rats...and other top tax return excuses

Rats and Tax Return
By Kyle McHatton, CA Today

15 January 2016

From hungry rats to sick accountants and marital rifts, officials say some people will try anything to get out of submitting their tax return on time.

HMRC has revealed some of the most unusual excuses people have provided for failing to submit their tax return on time.

The following 10 excuses were all used in unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties for late returns:

  1. My tax papers were left in the shed and the rat ate them.
  2. I’m not a paperwork-orientated person – I always relied on my sister to complete my returns but we have now fallen out.
  3. My accountant has been ill.
  4. My dog ate my tax return.
  5. I will be abroad on deadline day with no internet access so will be unable to file.
  6. My laptop broke, so did my washing machine.
  7. My niece had moved in – she made the house so untidy I could not find my log-in details to complete my return online.
  8. My husband ran over my laptop.
  9. I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for 5 years.
  10. I had a cold which took a long time to go.

Genuine reasons

HMRC said it accepts there are genuine reasons why some people cannot submit their return on time, such as the recent flooding in the UK, but other excuses just fail to carry any weight.

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Personal Tax, said: "Untidy family members and hungry pets are very unlikely to be accepted as a legitimate excuse for completing your tax return late.

"We understand that life can be unpredictable and for those customers who have a genuine excuse for missing the 31 January deadline, such as the flooding, help is at hand.

"My advice would be to contact us through our helplines or online, as soon as possible. But for those who are trying to play the system, while the rest of us do the right thing, the message is clear: submit your tax return online by 31 January or face a fine."

HMRC has opened a Tax Helpline to give practical help and advice to people affected by severe weather and flooding – 0800 904 7900.

Note: The deadline for sending 2014-15 tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2016.


  • Tax
  • Business
  • Accountancy

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