06 January 2014

10 worst reasons for a late tax return

Your 2012/13 tax return needs to be submitted by 31 January. We look at the worst excuses received by the HMRC and what might count as a reasonable excuses.

Do you still need to submit your 2012/13 tax return? With less than four weeks to go before the January 31 deadline, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has released the 10 worst excuses they have been given for returns being sent in late.

  1. A self employed builder claimed he missed the deadline because he was mourning the death of his pet goldfish.
  2. A farmer based in the Midlands blamed his tardiness on having a run-in with a cow.
  3. One self-employed trader said the fault lay with his wife because she would not give him his mail.
  4. A woman in London claimed she was unable to concentrate on completing her tax return after seeing a volcanic eruption on the news.
  5. Confusion over the deadline caused a hairdresser in Leicester to be late as she told HMRC she had believed her husband when he said the return was not due until March 31.
  6. A writer in Coventry said he had been unable to make the deadline as he had been too busy touring the country with his one-man play.
  7. A working taxi driver told tax officials that he had been unable to go upstairs to get his tax return due to his bad back.
  8. Cruising around the world in a yacht was given as an excuse by a man in the south east who said he was only picking up his post when he was on dry land and so had been unable to complete the return on time.
  9. A rather modest reason was given by a financial services company in Kent which claimed the business didn’t really do anything.
  10. An accountant in London said he had been too busy submitting tax returns for his client to send his own in on time.

What happens if you miss the deadline

Filing your tax return late could mean you receive a £100 fine from the HMRC.

Of course, if something happens beyond your control, such as a serious illness and you miss the deadline, you should contact the HMRC as soon as possible and make a reasonable excuse claim. Each claim is considered individually and you still need to send your tax return and pay any money you owe as soon as possible. As Ruth Owen, the HMRC’s Director General of Personal Tax, says:

There will always be unforeseen events that mean a taxpayer could not file their tax return on time. However, your pet goldfish passing away isn’t one of them.

“If you haven’t yet sent your 2012 to 2013 tax return to HMRC, you need to do it online and pay the tax you owe by the end of January. With all the help and advice available, there’s no excuse not to.”

Whether you are an entrepreneur, start-up business or established company, it is vital to have your business finances in order. Set aside some time in the office to make sure your records are up to date, or seek professional advice.

Our tips 

  • Remember, don't underestimate how long it will take to complete and try not to leave it unitl the last minute.
  • If this is your first time completing your return online, you'll also need an activation code. Make sure you allow time to receive this before the end of January.
  • The deadline also applies to any tax you owe. This needs to reach the HMRC by the deadline, so allow extra time for your bank to process the payment. 
  • If you're having trouble completing the form, contact the relevant HMRC helpdesk.