HMRC's 10 oddest late tax return excuses

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Clients may often give their accountants wild excuses for handing in records late, but it appears some also take a similar tack with the Revenue.

Ahead of the 31 January self assessment deadline, HMRC published its list of its oddest 10 excuses it has received for those who failed to file on time - ranging from a dead goldfish to an altercation with a bovine animal.

The list includes...

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I like the one

where the guy says he had an accident due to waving to a person he had knocked down the previous week.

I'm sure we can come up with a lot more original ones?

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From the other side of the pond


Here’s one I read in an American book of excuses, all the better as it looks to have come to light during the process of the taxpayer’s application to become a barrister.

“I didn’t file my tax return for 1987 or 1988 because I was afraid it would draw attention to the fact that I had not filed for 1986” [In re: Application for admission to the Bar (Stransky), 431 Mass. 678; 729 N.E 2d 1085 (2000)]

Not sure this would pass HMRC famously conservative view on what constitutes a reasonable excuse!

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Limited sympathy
I always have a limited amount of sympathy for those who have 9 months or a year to file a return but leave it to the last moment to do it. Life gets in the way and then they miss the deadline. On the other hand the death of a beloved goldfish is a terrible tragedy

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A wonderful start to the year!

I'm quite sure no one at HMRC would agree with me, but surely there can be few better days at work than to compare these ridiculous excuses?  They qualify as better entertainment than the telly anyday!  They must be quite sorry when they get past them...the rest of the year wouldn't have much to recommend it!

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But ...

... although you have 10 months nearly to file the return, getting the necessary information can be problematic! 

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Filing on Christmas day

I find it quite amazing that so many people (1500+) filed their tax returns on Christmas Day. Some great excuses though - classic !!

John (Cloud Bookkeeping Software)


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A "run-in with a cow" can

A "run-in with a cow" can result in death or serious injury - but I'm sure they would have investigated and not just dismissed out of hand.

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Increase the fines

If so many people are "happy" to file late and pay the fines then the fines need to be increased!

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HMRC's 10 oddest late tax return excuses

The best excuse I've had from a client who failed to bring her records in on time was: "My dog did a whoopsie on my records and I was too embarrassed to bring them in".

David (Morgan Jones Accountants)

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Lucky you :-)

Bet you were looking forward to getting your hands on that lot then.

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Dog Poo

is biodegradable and could possible come under some sort of "green" relief.

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