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Top ten funny excuses for late tax returns

30th Oct 2009
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Clients say the funniest things…read our selection of the some of the far fetched tales given for failing to fill out those pesky tax returns on time.

There are all sorts of reasons people give for not being able to submit their tax returns on time, from the genuinely sensible to the truly ridiculous. Here are a few of our favourites from around the web*.

1.    “I suffer from late filing syndrome”
A US governor’s aide who failed to pay income taxes or file returns for five years pleaded in court that he suffered from ‘late filing syndrome’, a medical condition caused by depression which only affected his ability to fill in tax returns. Unfortunately the American Psychiatric Association didn’t agree with him. How depressing.

2.    “I was having a senior moment”
So you’re not quite the right side of 60 and you habitually leave your glasses/pens/calculators on buses – why not use your deteriorating memory faculties to your advantage? Apparently a few taxpayers have tried this one but the difficulty has been proving it. That, and the fact that many of them forgot to show up to their hearings.

3.    “I was in a coma”
This one might actually work if true, but unfortunately it’s slightly less effective if there’s CCTV footage of you throwing shapes down at your local disco at the time you were supposedly in said coma. (This applies regardless of how bad your dancing might be).

4.    “I was busy stocking up on blunt instruments ahead of the impending zombie apocalypse”
Ok, so no one’s actually used this one yet as far we’re aware, but it might not be as far fetched as you think. Scientists recently conducted research into what would happen if a zombie plague broke out and found that unless dealt with quickly and aggressively, it may result in the collapse of civilization. Given the overwhelming scientific evidence, you ought to be forgiven for taking precautions.

5.    “I’m not liable to pay taxes because I’m an alien”
We presume they meant illegal immigrant in this case, although you could try pleading your case as an extra-terrestrial. Alternatively if you really are an alien, why not just use your mind-bending powers to win them over?

6.    “I’m Batman, I don’t pay taxes”

This isn’t quite the excuse that Val Kilmer gave in a case involving New Jersey tax authorities recently, but at least the claim that he's Batman would be sort of true. Unless your name is Christian Bale (or indeed, Bruce Wayne) and you have the Batmobile to prove it, we don’t think this one will work.

7.    “It got lost down my massive trousers”

Rapper MC Hammer (who is known for his trademark baggy ‘Hammer Pants’) had three tax liens filed against him earlier this year. He claimed the IRS miscalculated. Perhaps he lost a few receipts down those huge trousers?

8.    “I haven’t had time because a baby magpie flew into my house and I have to stay in to feed it”
It might sound weird, but this was an actual excuse used by someone who didn’t pay their TV licence on time. The more creative among you might like to substitute the magpie for any number of other winged creatures – baby eagle, perhaps?

9.    “I’ve been kidnapped by pirates”
A little controversial, but workable. Whatever you do, don’t mention Captain Jack Sparrow.

10. “My dog ate it”

For paper returns this might seem like a tried and tested failsafe, but it’s a slightly trickier one to implement in the digital age. Can dogs eat computers? We’re not sure. If you can think of an updated version, you may get away with it, otherwise this old chestnut earns ‘nul points’ for creativity. Get to the back of the class.

Have you heard any creative excuses from clients or colleagues? Share your late tax return excuses below.

*Disclaimer: AccountingWEB neither supports nor condones making excuses for not submitting your tax returns and does not accept any liability whatsoever for any loss or damage incurred by using any of the above excuses.


Replies (6)

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By JCresswellTax
30th Oct 2009 09:21

My Client said:

My pet mouse eat my ethernet connection and I couldn't connect to the internet on 31st January to file my return online.

She also claimed a family death - the mouse !

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By User deleted
30th Oct 2009 15:14

I think I must be a boring accountant as I don't find this funny

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By orchardacc
01st Nov 2009 19:15

Is this meant to be a JOKE???

I dont think any client in their right mind will give such excuse. If i have one as a client, might have to consider my own sanity!

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By Gina Dyer
02nd Nov 2009 10:05

Oh dear!

Sorry you didn't think it was funny. I suppose you can't please everyone! What sort of things would you prefer to see in the Time Out section of the site?

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By Shirley Martin
05th Nov 2009 23:07

Well I loved the mouse one

I've just read this post and I've been trying to laugh silently at the one about the mouse so that I don't wake my IT husband who has gone to bed with a cold.  Keep up the good work Gina.


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By welsh_dragon
22nd Nov 2009 00:21

Does ANYTHING constitute an excuse ?

FACT - Last January I suffered a heart attack - In mid February when I was back home I telephoned HMRC to tell them that my return and a couple of clients would be late as I'd had a heart attack and had been in hospital having a triple by-pass. 

I was told by the imbecile at HMRC - "I dont consider a heat attack to be sufficient reason for not submitting your return on time".  I recorded this conversation and subsequently filed a complaint.


So - if being in intensive care due to something you certainly could not have forseen doesnt constitute a reasonable excuse I wonder just what does?  

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