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HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has recently released a list of the 10 worst excuses received for late filing of a tax return and late payment of tax.

According to a report in the Telegraph, the list included dogs eating tax returns, being up a mountain in Wales, escaping from a foreign intelligence agency, having Barack Obama as a financier and living in a camper van in the car park of a supermarket.

Some of the other reasons were just as outlandish, and included excuses like living in Australia, having the responsibility of looking after parrots and foxes, or simply falling in with ‘the wrong crowd’.

According to HMRC, it is possible to appeal against a late filing penalty if you have a reasonable excuse. Reasons such as having a pregnant girlfriend (which made the list) and lending a tax return to a colleague but failing to get it back (also in the top 10) will not suffice.

A suitable excuse has to be something that wasn’t within your control, like the death of a partner or family member. If problems with HMRC’s website prevent a person filing their tax return, or a person had been admitted to hospital unexpectedly, this may be classed as a reasonable excuse. However, having difficulty using the online filing system, insufficient funds or a cheque that has been returned by the bank will not be accepted as reasonable excuses by HMRC.

Ruth Owen, the director general of personal tax, has said jokingly that while people may have a genuine excuse for failing to meet a tax deadline, being the owner of a pet that has a taste for envelopes sent by HMRC is not one of them.

All outstanding 2013-14 self assessment tax returns must be submitted online by 31st January 2015. As the deadline approaches, HMRC warns that it could take around 10 days to receive an activation code so that you can register for its online services, so early action is crucial.

What happens if you miss the deadline?

Tardiness will result in an automatic late filing penalty of £100 being issued. If the tax return is still outstanding after three months, daily penalties will be issued at £10 per day for up to 90 days. If the tax return remains outstanding, the penalties and interest charged gradually increase.

Is there help available?

For difficulties, you can call HMRC’s helpline, although recent reports indicate that the waiting times have increased.

If you haven’t submitted your 2013-14 tax return and are concerned, contact us here at The Accountancy Partnership today.

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!

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