‘I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for five years’.
This is just one of the ten worst excuses people gave for missing the tax return deadline last year, according to the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
From broken kitchen appliances, to damaged laptops and hungry pets, it appears that some people will stop at nothing to pass the blame for not filling in their tax self assessment form by January 31.
The 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, so did my washing machine; my niece had moved in - 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 and 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.
While HMRC will not accept spurious excuses when the vast majority hit the deadline and pay up what they owe, it does recognise that a number of 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.
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 at 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 January 31, 2016.