Editor | 29 January 2018
Alien encounters and other bad excuses for late tax returns

Alien encounters and other bad excuses for late tax returns

With less than a week to go before the self-assessment deadline, HMRC has revealed some of the worst excuses taxpayers have offered after failing to complete their returns on time.

Topping the list was the unlikely claim that “I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house”.

The taxman releases this list of tall tales and silly excuses each year as they try and remind more people about the 31 January self-assessment deadline.

Other excuses included:

  • I’ve been too busy touring the country with my one-man play
  • My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, and I can’t retrieve it because I suffer from vertigo
  • My business doesn’t really do anything
  • I spilt coffee on it 

 In previous years the excuses have included: “my tax return was on my yacht, which caught on fire”, “my tax papers were left in the shed and a rat ate them” and, of course, “my dog ate my tax return”.

HMRC does accept some reasonable excuses for late tax returns. Needless to say though, all of the above excuses were rejected.

A close family member’s death, an unexpected stay in hospital and having a serious or life-threatening illness are all given by HMRC as examples of reasonable excuses.

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.”

HMRC also revealed a list of questionable expense claims that were rejected by the taxman.

These included:

  • A three-piece suite for my partner to sit on when I’m doing my accounts.
  • Birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub.
  • Vet fees for a rabbit.
  • Hotel room service – for candles and prosecco.
  • £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days. 

What happens if my tax return is late?

If your self-assessment is late and you don’t have a reasonable excuse then you will be liable to pay a fine.

If it’s submitted one day late then you’ll incur a £100 fine. If it’s more than three months late then you will be charged an extra £10 per additional day that it’s not payed (up to 90 days).

Over 6 months late and they will add an extra £300 or 5% of the tax due (whichever is higher). This is repeated after 12 months and in the most serious cases, HMRC reserves the right to fine you 100% of your tax due – doubling your bill.

Filing tax return with cloud accounting

Cloud accounting software such as Xero and FreeAgent allows self-employed professionals and small business owners to submit their self-assessment tax returns quickly and easily – so there’s no need for farfetched excuses.

All through the year, the software gathers information about your income and expenditure and uses it to calculate your liability. Some systems can automatically complete up to 90% of the tax return.

This saves time and reduces errors. It also makes it easier to claim for expenses that you might not have thought about. For many clients, the software pays for itself in the long run. 

If you need any extra help submitting your tax return before the January 31 deadline, speak to a member of our CloudAccountant.co.uk accountancy team to arrange a consultation today. Call: 0808 281 0303.