Starting a new business? Get 40% off our accountancy services for 3 months! 😀


Completing and submitting your tax return may not fill you with joy – which is why, if you’re wise, you’ll hand over the stress of it to an accountant.

However, at least you know that tax return deadlines bring with them HMRC’s publication of its favourite late tax return excuses for the year, and a chance to chuckle at those who have contrived the most pathetic and unbelievable excuses for their late or non-existent returns.

Once again, they don’t disappoint.


Too Busy Living the High Life

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

We can only hope that this submitter didn’t try to claim his or her yacht against tax… a floating office, perhaps?

Animal Inconveniences

“A wasp in my car caused me to have an accident and my tax return, which was inside, was destroyed.”

Wow. That must have been some accident. Surely only a fire could have completely destroyed a tax return?

“My dog ate my tax return…and all of the reminders.”

If you have a mail-eating dog, chances are, you’re losing other important items of post too and should really have the common sense, after the first occurrence, to get a mail box for the inside of your door.


Family Flaws

If there are no handy animals to blame their late tax return on, some people turn swiftly to their nearest and dearest rather than take responsibility themselves – and spouses are first in the firing line:

“My wife helps me with my tax return, but she had a headache for ten days.”

“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.”

“My husband told me the deadline was the 31st March.”

“My child scribbled all over the tax return, so I wasn’t able to send it back.”


Favour for a Ghostly Friend

If you work for yourself, then surely, you might think, by definition you don’t have any colleagues – even unreliable ones:

“I work for myself, but a colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and lost it.”


First World Failures

It seems some submitters are stumped as soon as modern conveniences let them down.

“My internet connection failed.”

“The postman doesn’t deliver to my house.”


All of these reasons were quite rightly refused as valid excuses, but HMRC is keen to point out that they “will treat those with genuine excuses leniently.”

“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.”


Chancing Their Arm

“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,” says Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Customer Services. “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.

Get all the details on our tax return services here



About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

More posts by this author
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Read more posts...

Architects and Tax

Architecture is a highly diverse sector when it comes to tax. It’s partly down to the type of businesses that carry out…

Read More

June 2022 Client of the Month: Manea Kella

This month we spoke to Adrian Manea, architect and director at Manea Kella, a London based RIBA Chartered architecture and interior design…

Read More

Succession Planning for Business Owners: What Comes Next?

When you own a business, it’s extremely normal to feel like you’re surviving one day to the next – ‘winging it’, as…

Read More
Back to Blog...

Confirm Transactions

The number of monthly transactions you have entered based on your turnover seem high. A transaction is one bookkeeping entry such as a sale, purchase, payment or receipt. Are you sure this is correct?

Yes, submit my quote
No, let me change it

Please contact our sales team if you’re unsure

VAT Returns

It is unlikely you will need this service, unless you are voluntarily registered for VAT.

Are you sure this is correct?

Yes, the business is VAT registered
No, let me change it

Call us on 020 3355 4047 if you’re not sure.


You only need this service if you want us to complete the bookkeeping on your behalf.

Would you prefer to complete your own bookkeeping?


Call us on 020 3355 4047 if you’re not sure.