HMRC reveals top 10 strangest excuses & expense claims as Self-Assessment deadline looms
A dog eating the post, cruising on a yacht and one fish & chip supper too many are just some of the most bizarre excuses & expense claims submitted to the HMRC over the past 10 years as the Self-Assessment Tax Return deadline for 2020 approaches.
With just over a week and a half to go until the 31st January deadline, HMRC has unveiled the most outlandish claims of the decade as a reminder to people to return their Self-Assessments on time to avoid the automatic £100 penalty.
Angela MacDonald, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, said: “Each year, we try to make it as easy and simple as possible for our customers to complete their tax returns and the majority make the effort to do theirs’ right and on time. But we still come across some unusual excuses and expenses, which range from problems with a mother-in-law to yachts set on fire.
She added: “If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now – the earlier we’re contacted, the more we can help.”
Last year, over 700,000 taxpayers out of over 11 million failed to submit their Self-Assessment tax return by the 31st January deadline.
In certain cases, HMRC may allow the penalty to be appealed if the taxpayer has a reasonable excuse for failing to meet the deadline, however, each year it receives a large number of farfetched excuses such as the ones below.
Advising taxpayers on what constitutes a reasonable excuse, David Redfern, Managing Director of tax preparation specialist DSR Tax Claims, said: “If you miss the deadline and are issued with an automatic penalty, HMRC will consider your excuse if it deems it to be reasonable – but excuses far less ludicrous than the ones listed may still be deemed unreasonable if HMRC believes you have not taken suitable measures to meet the deadline.
“Sometimes life gets in the way of our best intentions and HMRC, as an organisation, recognises this so there are some reasons for late filing which will be accepted by HMRC, such as the death of a close relative shortly before the deadline, a serious or life-threatening illness or an unexpected stay in hospital, or the failure of your computer or software just as you were preparing your tax return.
“If you can demonstrate to HMRC that you fully intended to meet your taxpayer obligations but were unable to do so, they have the capacity to quash your penalty. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to complete your tax return – you are still expected to do so as soon as you possibly can.”
According to the tax expert, other excuses deemed to be reasonable include issues relating to HMRC’s online services, postal delays which could not have reasonably been predicted, delays due to a disability you have or being prevented from meeting the deadline due to a fire, flood or theft.
“If you failed to submit a tax return because you found HMRC’s online service too difficult to use, or you relied on someone else to submit your Self-Assessment and they failed to do so, these are not deemed to be good enough reasons not to have fulfilled your obligations as a taxpayer,” finished David.
“HMRC starts from the position that your taxes are your responsibility and you are expected to make all reasonable provision for submitting a tax return and making payment for your tax bill.”
Check out the top 10 most bizarre excuses and expense claims below – unsurprisingly, all were unsuccessful:
- My mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me
- A DJ was too busy with a party lifestyle – spinning the deck….in a bowls club
- Pet food for a Shih Tzu ‘guard dog’
- A music subscription so I can listen to music while I work
- I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land
- My hamster ate my post
- Claiming £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days
- My dog ate the post … again
- I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a post box or get an internet signal
- Caravan rental for the Easter weekend