As this issue of HIP hits the streets, the tax return deadline for another year will be upon us. As with every year, many people will have scrambled to get their records together at the last minute, just filing on time. Others, realising that they will not meet the deadline, have adopted a somewhat different approach. As exhibited in a round-up from HMRC from the last 10 years, some taxpayers will put forward the most implausible excuses for failing to file on time. 

In a variant of a popular schoolkid excuse for missing homework, dogs regularly find themselves accused of consuming tax returns. One taxpayer, perhaps realising how hackneyed that excuse was, chose to shift the blame for shredded forms to their hamster instead. A DJ claimed that they had got too carried away with the party lifestyle of spinning the decks, a claim that might have had more weight if their main performing venue had not been a bowls club. 

Withdrawing from civilisation has also been offered up as an excuse, with a man claiming to have been up a Welsh mountain with no post box or internet signal. Another allegedly uncontactable person may have been trying to wow HMRC with their jet-set lifestyle. They claimed to have been touring the world in their yacht and only picked up their post during rare stops on dry land. Supernatural forces were also said to be at work when a dilatory taxpayer claimed their mother-in-law was a witch who had cursed them.

None of the above excuses for failing to file on time was accepted, with the claimants all being hit by the £100 late filing penalty. Despite the failure of these claimants, HMRC will accept some excuses for late filing as genuine. Sudden illness of the taxpayer or a close relative, fire or flood destroying business records or failure of HMRC’s own systems are all considered reasonable excuses. You will still need to file your tax return as soon as possible after the excuse no longer applies if you want to overturn the penalty. Appeals against penalties must be made in writing, usually within 30 days of the penalty notice being issued. 

More details on appealing penalties can be found here. gov.uk/tax-appeals/penalty


We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. The future of our volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. You can also support local journalism by becoming a friend of HIP. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.