Alien sightings top tax return excuses probe

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The truth is out there – but just not in any of these imaginative late tax return excuses. From alien sightings to one-man plays, HMRC has yet again compiled some of the most colourful excuses from taxpayers failing to complete their tax returns on time.

AccountingWEB readers hear some out of this world excuses from clients but the excuse topping HMRC’s annual late filing tax return list can really claim that intergalactic distinction: “I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house,” read the top excuse.

Every year HMRC publishes the most ludicrous excuses from businesses that miss the 31 January self assessment deadline.

Previous excuses include clunkers like last year’s winner “my tax return was on my yacht, which caught on fire” , this classic from the 2015, “my tax papers were left in the shed and a rat ate them” and of course, "My dog ate my tax return."

In close contention this year was “I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play”. And the third place featured a vertigo-inspired excuse.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s director general of customer services spoke about this annual ritual: “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."

Here is this year’s crop of tax return excuses:

  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.

In addition to this year’s Roswell-inspired tax return excuses, HMRC has released some of the weirdest expense claims. The rejected excuses range from rabbit vet fees to sausages.

MacDonald said HMRC receives an “absurd amount” expense claims. “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,” she said.  

Here are the questionable taxpayer expense claims:

  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.

HMRC’s rejected expense claims list comes after the AccountingWEB community shared some of the strangest expense claims that they’ve seen submitted.

AccountingWEB contributor Della Hudson had a client who tried to put their new house through as an expense. Meanwhile, Andy Partridge, while working for a company with a high profile chairman, saw the chairman’s son regularly claim “gentleman’s magazines”.

As we’re in the midst of tax return season, there must be some strange excuses you’ve heard when chasing clients. What are some of crazier one’s this year?

About Richard Hattersley

Richard Hattersley

Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.

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19th Jan 2018 10:40

Nowt wrong with sausage'n'chips - you can vary the veg.

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19th Jan 2018 10:47

What was wrong with the rabbit?

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19th Jan 2018 10:50

Former oppo of mine said that when he was working at HMRC (he got better) he did see an interesting claim on one return under 'professional services'. He wanted to write back in a suitably witty style, but his manager wouldn't let him.

I've had the 'can I claim for...no, of course you can't' conversation so many times before. MTD; What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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19th Jan 2018 14:20

Our dog never ate the tax return but there's some deep suspicion about some clients bank statements that vanished....

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20th Jan 2018 14:11

I recall 50 years ago as a new recruit in the Tax Office being bemused by an expenses claim from a lady physical education instructor. I couldn't quite figure out why she was claiming for a jockstrap!

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