Aliens ate my tax return

The deadline for submitting a self-assessment tax return is looming, 31 January. The vast majority of taxpayers file their returns on time, however there are a few taxpayers who submit the return late and receive a penalty from HMRC.

I say a few; it was in excess of 840,000 in 2017!!

HMRC charge a penalty of £100 for each late tax return. Penalties paid to HMRC in 2017 totalled in excess of £84 million. HMRC have in place, an appeals procedure for taxpayers who are late in submitting their return and have a reasonable excuse. A ‘reasonable excuse’ is the necessary requirement for a successful appeal.

HMRC have kindly published a list of what they may consider are reasonable excuses. These are:

  • IT failure
  • Electrical failure or broadband failure
  • The taxpayer or member of the close family has a worsening or new medical condition which means they are incapable of the filing of the tax return

HMRC and the Courts do not consider that relying on a third party to complete the return meets the criteria of a reasonable excuse if they file the return late.

HMRC have published some of the more outlandish excuses put forward by taxpayers. Although blaming the dog has always been popular it doesn’t make the new top 5.

Please note that the following will not get the penalty reduced:

  • I couldn’t file my tax return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house………beam me up Scotty!
  • I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one man play
  • My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it……….hope he now lives in a bungalow!
  • My business doesn’t really do anything…….why are you in business then!
  • I spilt coffee on it…… there is a requirement to submit the return online (for the vast majority) that must have made a mess of the computer screen!

The moral of the story is avoid having to be creative with an appeal by ensuring that your self-assessment tax return is submitted by midnight on the 31 January.

You can find HMRC’S full article here.