Muras Matters: ‘Top 10 Terrible Excuses’

 ‘Top 10 Terrible Excuses’


Most readers will know that the deadline for filing a self assessment return for the year ended 5 April 2014 was 31 January 2015. Failure to meet this deadline leads to an automatic penalty of £100 unless, in very exceptional circumstances, the tax payer can demonstrate a ‘reasonable excuse’.

Last month HM Revenue and Customs (“HMRC”) published their ‘Top 10 Terrible excuses’ for sending in a late return; needless to say NONE of these resulted in a penalty being waived.

  1. My pet dog ate my tax return and all the reminders
  2. I was up a mountain and couldn’t find a post box or an internet signal
  3. I fell in with the wrong crowd
  4. I’ve been travelling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency
  5. Barack Obama is in charge of my finances
  6. I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs
  7. A colleague borrowed my tax return and didn’t give it back
  8. I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park
  9. My girlfriend’s pregnant
  10. I was in Australia

All of these people received a £100 penalty from HMRC for filing late. They appealed against the decision using these excuses, but were unsuccessful.

HMRC consider a reasonable excuse to be an unexpected or unusual event, beyond the person’s control, and which prevents the person from complying. If your return is filed as soon as possible when you are able to and your excuse meets HMRC’s criteria, then any penalty may be removed. Interest and surcharges will still apply to any overdue tax.

If you have not yet filed your return but consider that you might have a reasonable excuse, or you require advice over your tax liabilities, please contact our Tax Director, Jenny Marks.