Unusual excuses for late tax returns

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Unusual excuses for late tax returns are unveiled by HMRC

Last updated on Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Written by Andrew Trodden

If you fail to submit your Personal Tax Return by 31st January 2017 you will be subject to an automatic penalty. HMRC has released some of the most creative, yet unsuccessful excuses they have received for the submission of a late Personal Tax Return.


Blaming the dog will not be sufficient for submitting a late tax return!

Every year, HMRC receive some imaginative excuses from people who have failed to submit their tax returns by the deadline. Ten of the best reasons have been disclosed by HMRC, but please be aware, they were all unsuccessful!

  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”.


Our blog article written last year summarises some older, yet equally ridiculous excuses for the submission of a late tax return.

What does HMRC consider an unreasonable excuse for a late tax return?

HMRC have confirmed they will not consider the reasons below as an acceptable excuse for the late submission of your Personal Tax Return.

  • You relied on someone else to send your return and they didn’t.
  • Your cheque bounced or payment failed because you didn’t have enough money.
  • You found the HMRC online system too difficult to use.
  • You didn’t get a reminder from HMRC.
  • You made a mistake on your tax return.


What does HMRC consider a reasonable excuse for a late tax return?

The following explanations are considered reasonable excuses by HMRC for the submission of a late tax return:

  • Your partner or another close relative died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline.
  • You had an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs.
  • You or a loved one had a serious or life-threatening illness.
  • Your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your online return.
  • There were service issues with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) online services.
  • A fire, flood or theft prevented you from completing your tax return.
  • There were postal delays that you couldn’t have predicted.


If you believe you have a justifiable reason for submitting your Personal Tax Return after the 31st January 2017, you can appeal against your penalty by completing a form issued by HMRC.

It’s not too late to submit your tax return

If you have still not submitted your Personal Tax Return, do not panic. Churchill Knight & Associates Ltd will take care of your tax return for you, ensuring it is correctly completed and submitted in time. Make sure you are not subject to an HMRC penalty and give our Personal Tax Return team a call on 01707 871622.

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