Press release

“My tax return was on my yacht…which caught fire”

Each year HMRC receives a number of unusual excuses from Self Assessment customers who didn’t complete their tax return on time.

These include:

  1. “My tax return was on my yacht…which caught fire”
  2. “A wasp in my car caused me to have an accident and my tax return, which was inside, was destroyed”
  3. “My wife helps me with my tax return, but she had a headache for ten days”
  4. “My dog ate my tax return…and all of the reminders”
  5. “I couldn’t complete my tax return, because my husband left me and took our accountant with him. I am currently trying to find a new accountant”
  6. “My child scribbled all over the tax return, so I wasn’t able to send it back”
  7. “I work for myself, but a colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and lost it”
  8. “My husband told me the deadline was the 31 March”
  9. “My internet connection failed”
  10. “The postman doesn’t deliver to my house”

Self Assessment Top Ten Excuses

The reasons above were all used in unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties for late returns.

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, said:

Blaming the postman, arguing with family members and pesky insects – it’s easy to see that some excuses for not completing a tax return on time can be more questionable than others. Luckily, it’s only a small minority who chance their arm.

But there will always be help and support available for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time. If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now - the earlier we’re contacted, the better.

The deadline for sending 2015-16 Self Assessment tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2017.

Self Assessment customers can now also submit their return via their Personal Tax Account, it takes five minutes to sign up for an account: www.gov.uk/personal-tax-account

Notes for Editors

  1. If you are submitting your 2015-16 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 at: www.gov.uk/selfassessment
  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. The ten 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 at www.gov.uk/selfassessment 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, or if the tax due is paid on time after three months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900 after six 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. Follow HMRC’s press office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice
  9. HMRC’s Flickr channel: www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk

Contact

Press enquiries only - please contact:

Patrick O’Brien Tel: 03000 585 024 Email: patrick.o’brien@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

Adrian Hallchurch Tel: 03000 585 020 Email: adrian.hallchurch@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

Out of hours Tel: 07860 359 544