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Self Assessment Tax Returns – The Top 10 worst excuses.

Posted: 29th Jan 2016 by Julia O'Connor Taxation

Thinking of using a broken kitchen appliance, a hungry pet or an argument that lasts five years as a reason for not getting your tax return in on time?

Be warned – all of these excuses have been rejected by HMRC for missing the 31 January Self Assessment deadline for 2013-14.


The Top 10 Worst Excuses – (Source: HMRC)

  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

The excuses were all used in unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties for late returns.

HMRC – Top 10 Excuses


Tax Helpline for those affected by Severe Weather & Flooding

The vast majority of taxpayers hit the deadline and pay up what they owe, but HMRC do recognise that a number taxpayers may have difficulties completing their tax return on time. For instance, those affected by flooding at their premises, or their agents’ premises, will not be asked to pay a penalty if their return is submitted without unreasonable delay.

The department has also opened a Tax Helpline to give practical help and advice to people affected by severe weather and flooding – 0800 904 7900.

For more information on notifying HMRC if you have been adversely affected by flooding visit: Self Assessment Tax return deadline – news from HMRC for flood victims


For genuine reasons, help is at hand, but HMRC must be notified

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Personal Tax, said:

“Untidy family members and hungry pets are very unlikely to be accepted as a legitimate excuse for completing your tax return late.”

“We understand that life can be unpredictable and for those customers who have a genuine excuse for missing the 31 January deadline, such as the flooding, help is on hand. My advice would be to contact us through our helplines or online, as soon as possible. But 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.”

The deadline for sending 2014-15 tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2016.


Contact us

If you would like any further advice on self assessment tax returns, please contact or call 01904 655202.