HMRC’s annual list of best excuses for not filing on time: ‘aliens, vertigo, Glasgow nightclub’

Over at HM Revenue & Customs, you’d think they’d have heard every conceivable excuse for why people said they missed the 31 January Self Assessment deadline for filing their tax returns. But ever year at around this time, the stern-faced folks over at the Revenue’s offices in London manage to come up with some new and invariably, extraordinary reasons they say people have given.

Perhaps the prize-winner this year came from the unidentified man who said he’d missed the deadline because “my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house”.

Another good one, also culled from a collection assembled, HMRC said, from the excuses received after last year’s 31 January deadline,  came from the also-unidentified taxpayer who said they’d been “far too busy touring the country with my one-man play”.

The fellow who gave as his excuse the claim that his “ex-wife left my tax return upstairs” and because he “suffer[ed] from vertigo” he was unable to “go upstairs to retrieve it”, meanwhile, sounded as though he was making a bid for sympathy.

Other gems from this year’s collection included “my business doesn’t really do anything”, and “I spilt coffee on it”.

While having fun at the expense of those whose taxes paid their salaries, the HMRC gang over on Parliament Street in Westminster also compiled some of their favourite examples of what they referred to as “questionable items which taxpayers have tried to expense”.

These, they said, included “a three-piece suite for my partner to sit on when I’m doing my accounts”; “birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub”; “vet fees for a rabbit”; “hotel room service – for candles and prosecco”; and “£4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days”.

Perhaps needless to say, the above-listed excuses and expenses were rejected, at least with respect to getting their authors off the hook with respect to missing the deadline and getting their expenses accepted, (if not in terms of making the annual list of most-astonishing excuses and expense claims).

HMRC director general Angela MacDonald said that even though the tax body has made it much easier and more intuitive for our customers to complete their tax return, the “questionable excuses” and expense claims still came in.

And while blaming aliens probably wouldn’t work, “help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time”, she added.

Unless taxpayers think they can provide rock-solid evidence of the aliens that are preventing them from filing their returns by 31 January, though, MacDonald stressed, it’s best to try to make the deadline, or, if they think there’s a danger they could miss it, “get in touch with us now – the earlier we’re contacted, the more help we can offer”.

More information on Self Assessment may be found on HMRC’s website   by clicking here. 

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