From being too busy touring the country to claiming to seeing aliens, the following excuses were all used in unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties:
1. I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house.
2. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.
3. My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it.
4. My business doesn’t really do anything.
5. I spilt coffee on it.
HMRC also received some bizarre items that taxpayers have tried to expense. These expenses, which were also rejected, were:
1. A three-piece suite for my partner to sit on when I’m doing my accounts.
2. Birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub.
3. Vet fees for a rabbit.
4. Hotel room service – for candles and prosecco.
5. £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days.
Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s director general of customer services, said, “Each year we’re making it easier and more intuitive for our customers to complete their tax return, but each year we still come across some questionable excuses, whether that’s blaming a busy touring schedule or seeing aliens. However, help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time.
“We also receive absurd expense claims from vet fees for a rabbit to room service at a hotel. It is unfair to make honest taxpayers pick up the bill for other people’s spurious claims, so HMRC will only accept sincere claims such as legitimate expenses for a job.”
The deadline for sending 2016-17 self-assessment tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2018.
The penalties for late tax returns are an initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if there is no tax to pay and, after three months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900.
After six months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due will be applied, and after 12 months, another 5%. There are also late payment penalties of 5% of the tax unpaid at 30 days, six months and 12 months.
Those who think that they might miss the 31 January deadline are encouraged by HMRC to get in touch with the Revenue. If the taxpayer is able to provide a reasonable excuse, they may avoid a penalty after the deadline.