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Top 10 Self Assessment Excuses Revealed

With the 31 January deadline for submitting your annual tax return now just days away, HMRC has provided a round-up of the most obscure excuses it received after last year’s deadline from self assessment customers who were late in filing. All of the below, unsurprisingly, failed to successfully convince HMRC that the customer should receive an extension:

  1. “My tax return was on my yacht…which caught fire”
  2. “A wasp in my car caused me to have an accident and my tax return, which was inside, was destroyed”
  3. “My wife helps me with my tax return, but she had a headache for ten days”
  4. “My dog ate my tax return…and all of the reminders”
  5. “I couldn’t complete my tax return because my husband left me and took our accountant with him. I am currently trying to find a new accountant”
  6. “My child scribbled all over the tax return, so I wasn’t able to send it back”
  7. “I work for myself, but a colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and lost it”
  8. “My husband told me the deadline was the 31 March”
  9. “My internet connection failed”
  10. “The postman doesn’t deliver to my house”

While excuses involving scribbling, dogs, postmen, boats and wasps provide the lighter, more humorous side of annual tax returns, the fact is that missing the deadline is no laughing matter. A late submission – even if you are minutes past the midnight deadline – will trigger an automatic £100 fine, and there are further incremental penalties that accrue depending on how late your return is.

In 2016, HMRC reported that, in total, around seven per cent of individuals required to file their tax returns failed to meet the deadline, netting the government approximately £87 million in fines immediately on 1 February as a result of the £100 automatic fines, not including fines accruing past that date. With nearly one in five small business owners telling Informi this month that their primary reason for starting their business was because they wanted to do something they loved, it seems a crying shame to needlessly throw money down the drain by being late submitting your tax return – even if it isn’t the most glamorous part of the job.

If you’ve never previously filed a tax return, or you dread it every year due to the complicated nature of completing the form, take a look at Jen Smith’s blog on how to make submitting your return a breeze. And if you think you have a genuine excuse for being late, you should contact HMRC now – in advance of the deadline. They’ll appreciate the early warning you give and will be far more receptive to it.

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