The January 31 deadline for filing a Self Assessment Tax Return is approaching fast, and if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to either file yourself or make sure your accountant files it for you. It has become an annual tradition, as part of their campaign to remind taxpayers of the deadline, for HMRC to release some of the imaginative and intriguing excuses they have received for not completing tax returns on time.

Some highlights from this year’s list include:

  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.

As well as the excuses, HMRC also receives some questionable items which taxpayers have tried to expense:

  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.

Sadly for the taxpayers concerned, these excuses and expenses were all rejected.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, 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. However, help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time.

“We also receive absurd expense claims from vet fees for a rabbit to room service at a hotel. 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.

Entertaining as these excuses and claims are, less amusing for the individuals involved will have been the penalties from HMRC. If you are filing yourself, don’t leave it until the last minute, just in case some unforeseen event gets in the way. If your accountant is filing for you they have probably asked you to confirm some details; if you haven’t responded to them, do it now, they can’t be expected to file on time if you haven’t helped them to help you.

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