REVEALED: Top 30 terrible tax excuses


Every year HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) reveals ten of the most terrible excuses used in unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties for late filing and payment. And this year is no different.

With some spectacular and simply stupid attempts at avoiding fines, this year’s list is guaranteed to make you laugh. But rather than just give you last year’s odd reasons we’ve got three years’ worth of tardy taxpayers’ excuses.

2013 to 2014

  1. My tax papers were left in the shed and the rat ate them
  2. I’m not a paperwork-orientated person – I always relied on my sister to complete my returns but we have now fallen out
  3. My accountant has been ill
  4. My dog ate my tax return
  5. I will be abroad on deadline day with no internet access so will be unable to file
  6. My laptop broke, so did my washing machine
  7. My niece had moved in – she made the house so untidy I could not find my log in details to complete my return online
  8. My husband ran over my laptop
  9. I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for 5 years
  10. I had a cold which took a long time to go

2012 to 2013

  1. My pet dog ate my tax return…and all the reminders
  2. I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a postbox or get 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 work colleague borrowed my tax return, to photocopy it, 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

2011 to 2012

  1. My pet goldfish died
  2. I had a run-in with a cow
  3. After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else
  4. My wife won’t give me my mail
  5. My husband told me the deadline was 31 March, and I believed him
  6. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play
  7. My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is
  8. I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land
  9. Our business doesn’t really do anything
  10. I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns

The Self Assessment deadline for sending 2014-15 tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, was 31 January 2016.

If you missed the deadline you now know that ridiculous excuses such as hungry pets and broken kitchen appliances will not pass. So, submit your tax return as soon as possible to avoid any extra fines.

HMRC has reassured those with genuine excuses, such as those affected by flooding, that they will be treated fairly if their return is submitted without unreasonable delay.

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Personal Tax, said: “We understand that life can be unpredictable and for those customers who have a genuine excuse for missing the 31 January deadline, such as the flooding, help is on hand. My advice would be to contact us through our helplines or online, as soon as possible.

“But for those who are trying to play the system, while the rest of us do the right thing, the message is clear: submit your tax return online by 31 January or face a fine.

“We’re here to help people in genuine distress, but not to act as a free lender to people who can’t meet their responsibilities to pay their tax.”


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