Yacht fire tops list of tax return excuses

HMRC has revealed a top ten list of excuses for late tax returns.
HMRC has revealed a top ten list of excuses for late tax returns.
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It is a roll call of tenuous and absurd excuses which may raise a smile from the taxman but is unlikely to earn their forgiveness.

In a damning list of outlandish explanations, HMRC has revealed some of the explanations it has received from individuals who failed to file their tax return on time.

The most eye catching came from the taxpayer who claimed their documentation had been burned in a fire aboard a yacht, and the excuse from one individual who said a wasp had flown into their career, causing them to have an accident in which their tax return was inadvertently “destroyed.”

The litany of unlikely reasons showcases a mixture of imagination and creativity, as well as hoary old classics uttered down the years.

In a letter attached to his late return, one man wrote: “My wife helps me with my tax return, but she had a headache for ten days.”

One woman, meanwhile, told HMRC: “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.”

The deadline for self-assessment returns submitted on paper passed in October, although online forms can be sent until the end of January 2017.

Ruth Owen, HMRC’s 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.”

She added: “If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now - the earlier we’re contacted, the better.”