"My pet goldfish died" tops the list of tax return excuses

"My pet goldfish died" tops the list of tax return excuses

First published in News

With the 31 January tax return deadline just around the corner, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has revealed the top 10 oddest excuses for sending in a late return.

1. My pet goldfish died (self-employed builder)

2. I had a run-in with a cow (Midlands farmer)

3. After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else (London woman)

4. My wife won’t give me my mail (self-employed trader)

5. My husband told me the deadline was 31 March, and I believed him (Leicester hairdresser)

6. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play (Coventry writer)

7. My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is (a working taxi driver)

8. I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land (South East man) 

9. Our business doesn’t really do anything (Kent financial services firm) 

10. I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns (London accountant).

All of these people and businesses received a £100 penalty from HMRC for filing late.

They appealed against the decision using these excuses, but were unsuccessful.

HMRC’s Director General of Personal Tax, Ruth Owen, said: “There will always be unforeseen events that mean a taxpayer could not file their tax return on time. However, your pet goldfish passing away isn’t one of them.

“If you haven’t yet sent your 2012/13 tax return to HMRC, you need to do it online and pay the tax you owe by the end of January. With all the help and advice available, there’s no excuse not to.”

To send an online tax return, you must be registered for HMRC Online Services. This involves HMRC sending you an Activation Code in the post, so allow a few days for this to arrive. To register for HMRC Online Services go to www.hmrc.gov.uk/online and follow the on-screen instructions.

For general help and advice on completing a return, visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/sa or call the Self Assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310 (open 8.00am to 8.00pm, Monday to Friday, and from 8.00am to 4.00pm on Saturdays).

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