My dog ate my tax returns’: Top excuses revealed

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If you put yourselves in a tax inspector’s shoes, the job can be one of unremitting frustration and tedium dealing with the pressures imposed by ludicrously complex rules and procedures, excessive workloads and recalcitrant taxpayers. (The exception to this, of course, is the pleasingly harmonious relationship HMRC staff enjoy with tax advisers).

But just to show the people on the other side of the fence have a sense of humour too, HMRC compiles a list every year of unusual excuses for failing to submit self-assessment tax returns on time.

This year’s crop includes some classics, including the age-old canine/homework formula at number 4:

  1. My tax return was on my yacht, which caught fire.
  2. A wasp in my car caused me to have an accident and my tax return, which was inside, was destroyed.
  3. My wife helps me with my tax return, but she had a headache for ten days.
  4. My dog ate my tax return…and all of the reminders.
  5. 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.
  6. My child scribbled all over the tax return, so I wasn’t able to send it back.
  7. I work for myself, but a colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and lost it.
  8. My husband told me the deadline was the 31st March.
  9. My internet connection failed.
  10. The postman doesn’t deliver to my house.

According to HMRC director general for customer services Ruth Owen, “only a small minority” chance their arm with creative excuses like these – all of which were rejected as the basis for appeals.