Press release

Aliens, vertigo, and a Glasgow nightclub included in this year’s expenses and excuses

HMRC releases latest list of rejected Self Assessment expenses and excuses ahead of the 31 January deadline

Graphic of an alien

Every year, following the 31 January Self Assessment (SA) deadline, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) receives a number of imaginative and intriguing excuses for not completing tax returns on time. Each year also sees some wildly optimistic expense claims. Recent excuses include:

  1. I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house.
  2. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.
  3. My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it.
  4. My business doesn’t really do anything.
  5. I spilt coffee on it.

As well as the excuses, HMRC also receives some questionable items which taxpayers have tried to expense:

  1. A three-piece suite for my partner to sit on when I’m doing my accounts.
  2. Birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub.
  3. Vet fees for a rabbit.
  4. Hotel room service – for candles and prosecco.
  5. £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days.

The excuses and expenses listed above were all rejected.

Self Assessment - Weakest Excuses and Worst Expenses

Angela MacDonald, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, said:

Each year we’re making it easier and more intuitive for our customers to complete their tax return, but each year we still come across some questionable excuses, whether that’s blaming a busy touring schedule or seeing aliens. However, help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time.

We also receive absurd expense claims from vet fees for a rabbit to room service at a hotel. It is unfair to make honest taxpayers pick up the bill for other people’s spurious claims, so HMRC will only accept sincere claims such as legitimate expenses for a job.

If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now - the earlier we’re contacted, the more help we can offer.

The deadline for sending 2016 to 2017 Self Assessment tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2018. Self Assessment customers can now also submit their return via their personal tax account. It takes 5 minutes to sign up for an account here.

Notes for Editors

  1. If you are submitting your 2016 to 2017 Self Assessment return online for the first time, you will need to register for SA Online. Registering for online filing is simple – you can do it here
  2. HMRC has previously announced that we will treat those with genuine excuses leniently, as we focus our penalties on those who persistently fail to complete their tax returns and deliberate tax evaders. This remains the case, although the excuse must be genuine and we might ask for evidence. Those listed above were all declined on the basis that they were either untrue or not good enough reasons.
  3. Customers who provide HMRC with a reasonable excuse before the 31 January deadline can avoid a penalty after this date.
  4. Help is available from the GOV.UK website or from the Self Assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310.
  5. The deadline for Self Assessment returns is 31 January.
  6. The penalties for late tax returns are:
    • An initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if there is no tax to pay.
    • After 3 months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900
    • After 6 months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater
    • After 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater.
  7. There are also additional penalties for paying late of 5% of the tax unpaid at 30 days, six months and 12 months.
  8. An audio clip of Angela McDonald’s statement is also available upon request.
  9. Follow HMRC’s press office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice.
  10. HMRC’s Flickr channel can be found here.

Press contact

Patrick O’Brien Tel: 03000 585 024 Email: patrick.o’

Published 17 January 2018