POLITICS

The Great British Public's Top 10 Excuses For Late Tax Returns In 2016

'It was on my yacht...which caught fire'

21/12/2016 12:40 | Updated 10 January 2017

Yacht fires, pesky wasps and children’s scribble are among a string of ‘dog ate my homework’ excuses from the public for late tax returns, HM Revenue and Customs has revealed.

The list of “unusual” explanations, given by people who failed to submit their self-assessment forms on time, was published by the Government as it stepped up a drive to highlight the annual tax deadline in the New Year.

The online and offline deadline for completing 2015-16 Self Assessment tax returns and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2017.

The penalties for late tax returns are an initial £100 fine, with additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900. Further penalties of £300 are imposed after six months and a year if the bill is still unpaid.

Here are the top ten most lame appeals that were rejected in the past year:

1. “My tax return was on my yacht, which caught fire”

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2. “A wasp in my car caused me to have an accident and my tax return, which was inside, was destroyed”

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3. “My wife helps me with my tax return, but she had a headache for ten days.”

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4. “My dog ate my tax return...and all of the reminders.”

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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.”

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6. “My child scribbled all over the tax return, so I wasn’t able to send it back.”

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7. “I work for myself, but a colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and lost it.”

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8. “My husband told me the deadline was the 31st March.”

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9. “My internet connection failed.”

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10. “The postman doesn’t deliver to my house.”

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HMRC said it would “treat those with genuine excuses leniently” because it wanted to focus its efforts on “ those who persistently fail to complete their tax returns and deliberate tax evaders”.

“The excuse must be genuine and we might ask for evidence. The ten listed above were all declined on the basis that they were either untrue or not good enough reasons,” it said.

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, said: “Blaming the postman, arguing with family members and pesky insects – it’s easy to see that some excuses for not completing a tax return on time can be more questionable than others. Luckily, it’s only a small minority who chance their arm.

“But there will always be help and support available for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time.”

HMRC has however come under repeated attack from MPs and campaigners for delays and errors on self-assessment, with many complaints about the huge waiting times for phone helpline queries.

Help is available from the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk/self-assessment-tax-returns or from the Self Assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310.

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