The dog ate it – Top 10 excuses for missing the tax return deadline



Have you done your 5 April 2014 return? The deadline’s 31 January and the fine’s £100 even if you’re just one minute late.

If you haven’t done it yet, you either need to speak to us or think of a very good excuse. And here’s a tip – claiming “the dog ate it” or even “Barack Obama was supposed to do it” won’t work. He might have had time for 208 rounds of golf while he’s been President, but he can’t quite find time to do your tax return.

This was one of the 10 best excuses that HMRC received last year.

The full line up was:

  1. My pet dog ate my tax return…and all the reminders.
  2. I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a postbox or get an internet signal.
  3. I fell in with the wrong crowd.
  4. I’ve been travelling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency.
  5. Barack Obama is in charge of my finances.
  6. I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs.
  7. A work colleague borrowed my tax return, to photocopy it, and didn’t give it back.
  8. I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park.
  9. My girlfriend’s pregnant.
  10. I was in Australia.

What excuses do work?

HMRC will accept a “reasonable excuse” . There isn’t a legal definition, but this must be an “an unexpected or unusual event, either unforeseeable or beyond the customer’s control, which prevents him from complying with an obligation when he would otherwise have done”.

Examples include:

  • Bereavement – the death of a close relative near to the deadline
  • Serious illness, eg coma, heart attack or stroke
  • Being on active service overseas with the Armed Forces

According to Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Personal Tax, “People can have a genuine excuse for missing a tax deadline, but owning a pet with a taste for HMRC envelopes isn’t one of them.”

What’s the fine if I’m late?

There’s an immediate £100 fine if you miss the deadline at midnight on 31 January.

From 1 May, you’ll get charged an extra £10 per day for the 90 days, ie up to £900 extra. If you pass 31 July, there’s a minimum of £300 added, and another £300 if you’re a year late. And there’s a percentage of the tax owed and interest added as well!

So, as an example, if you’re over 6 months late, you’ll be fined a minimum of £1,300! So it’s well worth getting it in on time.

If you have any questions, please give us a ring on 0151 380 3800. You might even get through to our new employee – David Cameron!

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Any questions?

If you would like to arrange a free meeting with a Liverpool accountant to discuss personal tax, either at our office or at your premises, please contact us on 0151 380 3800 or by email at [email protected].

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Added by Jon Davies