Excuses, excuses

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has revealed the worst excuses it has heard over the previous year from people filing late tax returns.

The list, which was released ahead of the 31 January deadline for filing tax returns online, contains claims that were used in unsuccessful appeals against penalties imposed for late returns. Failed excuses included:

  • My tax papers were left in the shed and the rat ate them
  • I’m not a paperwork-orientated person – I always relied on my sister to complete my returns but we have now fallen out
  • My accountant has been ill
  • My dog ate my tax return
  • I will be abroad on deadline day with no internet access so will be unable to file
  • My laptop broke, and so did my washing machine
  • My niece had moved in and she made the house so untidy I could not find my log-in details to complete my return online
  • My husband ran over my laptop
  • I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for five years
  • I had a cold which took a long time to go

An initial fixed £100 penalty is charged for late tax returns, even if there is no tax to pay, followed by further penalties if the return remains outstanding. HMRC has said that it will not accept spurious excuses for late returns, but recognises that some taxpayers may have difficulties completing them on time.

HMRC has also produced a compendium of personal expenses claims included in 2013/14 Self-Assessment tax returns. They are:

  • The costs for storing Mars bars overnight in a fridge
  • The cost of a pair of flip flops so I don’t have to walk barefoot between my work’s changing and shower rooms
  • The costs for my intimate waxing
  • I bought a second hand car to get me from home to work so I didn’t have to walk
  • I purchased my own flat, so I need to claim back the money I spent on the furniture

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Personal Tax, said: “There are a number of items and expenses that people can claim against, such as genuine business costs and items needed to do a job. But a painful beauty regime or the furniture for your own home are not items that every taxpayer in the country should be contributing towards. It’s wrong that a small minority of people expect the honest majority to subsidise their lifestyle and HMRC will never allow for these to be processed as genuine claims.”

Link: HMRC