31 January is, of course, the personal tax return deadline. And, with less than a week left, HMRC have announced that over 3 million returns are still outstanding.

However, to prove the taxman is fun, HMRC always release their funniest list of excuses for missing that deadline.

Most years they give us ten excuses, but this year they must be struggling for time themselves, so they’ve only given us six. So, what are the top six excuses for missing last year’s Self-Assessment Tax Return deadline?

6.            “My business doesn’t really do anything”. If that’s the case, you still need to tell HMRC.

5.            Coming in at number five this year was, “I spilt coffee on it”. Someone’s still doing paper returns…..or they need to wipe their screen.

4.            “I’ve been far too busy to do the tax return”. And, presumably, to pay tax too?? If you’re really busy, you probably have some profit to declare.

3.            “I’ve been touring the country with my one-man play”. With no computer or internet?

2.            Someone claimed that their ex-wife left the tax return upstairs and they can’t go and get it because they suffer from vertigo.

1.            And the number one excuse this year was that somebody couldn’t do his tax return because his wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let him into the house. ET was unable to fill in the form himself.

As you can imagine, none of the excuses were accepted by HMRC.

So, what excuses do work?

HMRC will accept a “reasonable excuse”. There isn’t a legal definition, but this must be an “an unexpected or unusual event, either unforeseeable or beyond the customer’s control, which prevents him from complying with an obligation when he would otherwise have done”.

Examples include:

  • Bereavement – the death of a close relative near to the deadline
  • Serious illness, eg coma, heart attack or stroke
  • Being on active service overseas with the Armed Forces

What’s the fine if I’m late?

There’s an immediate £100 fine if you miss the deadline at midnight on 31 January.

From 1 May, you’ll get charged an extra £10 per day for the next 90 days, ie up to £900 extra.

If you pass 31 July, there’s an additional fine – this time it’s the larger of £300 or 5% of the tax owed. And it’s the same again if you’re a year late – another £300 or 5% of the tax.

And then there’s interest added as well!

As an example, if you’re over 6 months late, you’ll be fined a minimum of £1,300! So it’s well worth getting it in on time.


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Any questions?

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