HMRC reveals the most absurd late-filing excuses and expense claims
January – the month of thrift, healthy living, and, yes, another Davina McCall workout DVD. And for many the fun doesn’t stop there, as millions of taxpayers are required to submit their self-assessment tax returns by the deadline of 31st January.
As has become customary, January is also the month of the year that HMRC shows that it does possess at least some sense of humour, by releasing their list of the best excuses for late submissions from the previous year – and this year they have included some excellently flawed expense claims to boot.
Top Five Reasons for Late Submission of Tax Return
- “My mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me”
A story to which many can surely relate – however, not deemed a sufficient enough excuse by HMRC to avoid a £100 fine in this case.
- “I’m too short to reach the post box”
A heart-rending account, however HMRC would expect the shorter taxpayer to think outside of the box in such cases, perhaps employing the use of a step-ladder or milk crate to stand on (which itself would presumably be deductible as a capital allowance)
- “I was just too busy – my first maid left, my second maid stole from me, and my third maid was very slow to learn”
This taxpayer seems to be confused about the accountancy prowess of maids in general..
- “Our junior member of staff registered our client in Self Assessment by mistake because they were not wearing their glasses”
Visually impaired accountants are highly prized in some of the more unscrupulous jurisdictions of the world – not in Britain, however, and in this case, HMRC showed little sympathy.
- “My boiler had broken and my fingers were too cold to type”
This taxpayer not only had to shell out for a new boiler, they got slapped with a £100 fine from HMRC too. Tragic.
Top Five Outlandish Expense Claims
- A carpenter claiming £900 for a 55-inch TV and sound bar to help him price his jobs
It probably would help in pricing jobs – “from this job I could buy 7 more TVs”, etc
- £40 on extra woolly underwear, for 5 years
You can’t be working with a chill – but unless that chill is “wholly and exclusively” thanks to your job, HMRC will not be rubber-stamping such luxuries.
- £756 for my pet dog insurance
Clearly, this would need to be deducted against the dog’s own profits.
- A music subscription, so I can listen to music while I work
HMRC provide an excellent musical selection when you are put on hold, for free – anything else is clearly a bit lavish, and thus hard to justify as an acceptable expense.
- A family holiday to Nigeria
Nice try, but, no.
Last year’s excuses included an individual whose wife would not let him enter his own house as she was seeing aliens, someone who had been “far too busy touring the country with my one-man play” and a business that “doesn’t really do anything”.
Angela MacDonald, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, said:
“We want to make it as simple as possible for our customers to do their tax returns and the majority make the effort to do theirs right and on time. But each year we still come across some poor excuses and expenses which range from problems with maids to televisions.
“Help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time but it’s unfair to the majority of honest taxpayers when others make bogus claims.
“If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now – the earlier we’re contacted, the more we can help.”
The deadline for sending 2017-18 Self-Assessment tax returns to HMRC and paying any tax owed is 31 January 2019.
The penalties for late tax returns are:
- an initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time
- after 3 months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900
- after 6 months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater
- after 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater
25th January 2019.