HMRC publishes list of ‘weird and wonderful’ late tax return excuses

Hundreds of thousands of taxpayers rushed to file their tax returns before last month’s self-assessment deadline of 31 January – but not everyone was able to file their return on time.

In many instances, it is often the case that late-payers will offer up some very peculiar excuses to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as to why they were unable to submit their return.

Ahead of the deadline, HMRC published an amusing list of some of the most bizarre ‘excuses’ it had received in recent years over late returns.

These included:

  • “My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it.”
  • “I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house.”
  • “I spilt coffee on it.”
  • “I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.”
  • “My business doesn’t really do anything.”

HMRC also unveiled an additional list of unorthodox expense claims it had rejected in recent years.

These included “birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub,” “A three-piece suite for my partner to sit on when I’m doing my accounts” and “vet fees for a rabbit.”

HMRC Director General of Customer Service, Angela MacDonald, 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.

She said that “help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time,” but reminded taxpayers that in most cases, those who submit their returns late will need to pay a penalty.