Yacht fire tops list of tax return excuses

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.

HMRC has revealed a top ten list of excuses for late tax returns.

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.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

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.”