Tax return deadline day looms, and HMRC reveals the 10 worst excuses it has received for filing late which did not avoid that £100 late filing penalty

Hayley Kirton
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Tax return deadline day is looming and, while it may seem tempting to concoct an elaborate excuse rather than knuckle down with your paperwork before 31 January, it’s highly recommended that you don’t.

Not only could a late return land you with a £100 fine, you could also find your not-so-wise words taking a place in HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) hall of shame for the worst reasons it has heard for not filing a return on time.

From family feuds to broken washing machines, HMRC has today revealed that these are the top 10 worst excuses it has received:

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

“Untidy family members and hungry pets are very unlikely to be accepted as a legitimate excuse for completing your tax return late,” noted Ruth Owen, HMRC director general of personal tax.

However, HMRC are not an unreasonable bunch and, last year, the UK tax authority announced that it was aiming to be fairer on those with genuine reasons for filing their return after deadline day.

This year, HMRC is accepting reasonable excuses from taxpayers ahead of deadline day so that they can avoid being charged a penalty once filing day has passed.

Owen suggested that those fretting that they won’t be able to finish their return on time should contact HMRC either online or through one of their helplines.

However, Owen warned: “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. We’re here to help people in genuine distress, but not to act as a free lender to people who can’t meet their responsibilities to pay their tax.”

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