close menu

Ten unbelievable excuses from people who missed the Self Assessment deadline

by 1st Contact | Jan 15, 2014
  • With the 31st January Self Assessment tax deadline looming, it’s important to understand that you will not escape the automatic £100 penalty if you submit late – unless you have what HMRC deems a “reasonable excuse.”
    Tax refunds

    A “reasonable excuse” does not, however, include the dog eating your P60, or the fact that you had a cold on the day of the deadline. To be accepted as reasonable, your excuse will need evidence of an unexpected event that is truly beyond your control, therefore preventing you from meeting the deadline.

    Let’s say your car engine explodes on your way to work with the important documents in your cubby.  With proof of insurance claims, along with a YouTube video of your burning vehicle, you could probably have your deadline extended a bit without having to pay a fine.

    But if you wake up on the morning of the 31st January to a floating goldfish and spend the rest of the day on your couch, watching Steel Magnolias and sobbing into your onesie, you’re probably not going to be let off the hook.

    Top ten strangest excuses

    If you’re thinking that nobody would use the death of their goldfish as an excuse, think again. A goldfish death actually made No. 1 on HMRC’s recent list of ten strange excuses given for late Self Assessment tax returns:

    1. Believe it or not, a self-employed builder gave the sad demise of his goldfish as his reason for not submitting his return on time
    2. “I had a run-in with a cow” was a Midlands farmer’s excuse
    3. A London woman claimed she couldn’t concentrate on anything else after seeing a volcanic eruption on the news
    4. “My wife won’t give me my mail”, claimed a self-employed trader
    5. A Leicester hairdresser was adamant that her husband told her the deadline was 31st March, and she believed him
    6. Being busy is not a reasonable excuse either, as a Coventry writer discovered. “I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play,” said the man (who now faces a £100 penalty)
    7. A working taxi driver thought this was a very reasonable explanation: “My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is”
    8. Having a far-too-fabulous life doesn’t qualify either. A South East man said he had been cruising around the world on his yacht, only picking up post when on dry land. He too is subject to a £100 penalty, which could go up to as much as £1600 if he doesn’t get off his yacht soon and take care of his tax matters
    9. A Kent financial services firm claimed: “Our business doesn’t really do anything.” Seems legit.
    10. And finally, a London accountant used the excuse that he had been too busy submitting his clients’ tax returns to do his own.

    Most common excuses

    While the above are the strangest excuses HMRC has seen, they are not the most common. If you were thinking of using any of the following common excuses, be aware they will not be accepted:

    • The tax return is too difficult to understand
    • I’m under a lot of pressure at work
    • I didn’t receive a reminder from HMRC
    • I couldn’t get all the information I needed to complete the return
    • I thought my accountant would do it.

    Ultimately, your tax return is your responsibility. The reality is there’s plenty of information and help available to enable you to submit on time and avoid any late penalties.

    If you have still not filed your Self Assessment tax return, get onto it as soon as possible. Visit 1st Contact Accounting or call 0808 141 2341 if you need assistance. 

    We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

    Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you’ll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.

    • Confused businessman
      Hiring your first employee for your UK business? This is how much it costs
      Oct 31, 2019  |  by Scott Brown
    • business plan
      Step-by-step guide to writing a business plan [template included]
      Aug 29, 2019  |  by Scott Brown
    • female-entrepreneur hot air balloon
      Why we need more women-owned businesses
      Jul 16, 2019  |  by Scott Brown
    • crowdfunding lightbulb
      7 ways to finance your small business
      Jul 16, 2019  |  by Scott Brown
    • Businessman looking to the future
      How to get your business ready for the future
      Jun 19, 2019  |  by Scott Brown
    • Guide to UK PAYE tax forms
      A guide to UK PAYE tax forms P45, P60 and P11D
      Jun 14, 2019  |  by Kobus Van den Bergh
    • Cut-taxes
      The 2019/20 tax year changes: What they mean for you
      Jun 10, 2019  |  by Scott Brown
    • confused
      Do you need to complete a Self Assessment tax return?
      May 29, 2019  |  by Kobus Van den Bergh
    • Tax refund money
      11 excellent ways to spend your UK tax refund
      Apr 09, 2019  |  by Kobus Van den Bergh
    • London-business
      The UK still the best country for business in 2019
      Apr 04, 2019  |  by Scott Brown
     
     

    South Africa

    Cape Town

    Regent Square
    Doncaster Road
    Kenilworth 7708 +27 (0) 21 657 2120

    Durban

    25 Richefond Circle
    Ridgeside
    Umhlanga 4320 +27 (0) 31 536 8843

    United Kingdom

    Croydon

    One Croydon
    12-16 Addiscombe Road
    Croydon CR0 0XT +44 (0) 20 7759 7514

    Australia

    Melbourne

    9 Yarra Street
    South Yarra
    VIC 3141 +613 (0) 8651 4500

    Sable International is a trading name of 1st Contact Money Limited (company number 07070528), registered in England and Wales. We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA no. 517570), the Financial Services Conduct Authority in South Africa (1st Contact Money [PTY] Ltd - FSP no. 41900) and hold an Australian Financial Services Licence issued by ASIC to deal in foreign exchange (1st Contact Group - AFS Licence number 335 126).

    We use cookies to provide the best website experience for you. Using this website means that you agree to this. How we use cookies.