What’s the worst excuse for filing a late tax return?

As Christmas (and the Self Assessment filing deadline) is fast approaching we thought it would be helpful to let you know what excuses won't work if you think your tax return might be filed late with HMRC

worst excuse for filing a late tax return

If you do file your tax return late, you might be able to avoid the late filing penalties (which start at £100) if you have a reasonable excuse for a late filing. However the following excuses have all failed to convince HMRC:

  1. My tax papers were left in the shed and the rat ate them. (Perhaps the Inspector would have been more sympathetic if he'd seen the film 'Willard' - click here!)
  2. I’m not a paperwork orientated person – I always relied on my sister to complete my returns but we have now fallen out. (Our two sons frequently argue though it's usually about who's turn it is on the Xbox!)
  3. My accountant has been ill. (It's unfortunate that the accountant appears to have got the blame here, though we would say that wouldn't we?)
  4. My dog ate my tax return. (Knowing our dog we actually think this is more plausible than 1 above.)
  5. I will be abroad on deadline day with no internet access so will be unable to file. (This is clearly not true, as we've found that internet access abroad is usually better than in our neighbourhood!)
  6. My laptop broke, so did my washing machine. (That excuse obviously didn't wash with HMRC - sorry we couldn't resist a bad pun!)
  7. My niece had moved in – she made the house so untidy I could not find my log in details to complete my return online. (Having a teenage son we sympathise, though mercifully the untidiness is confined to his bedroom at the moment!)
  8. My husband ran over my laptop. (Presumably insurance companies are familiar with this excuse?)
  9. I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for 5 years. (Was this the follow up to excuse number 5? )
  10. I had a cold which took a long time to go. (Our advice is to take a Winter flu jab next time.)

So what are the late filing penalties?

Penalties for the late filing of self assessment Tax Returns are as follows:

  • 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 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater.

Tax due is also payable by 31st January, with penalties for late payment of 5% of the tax unpaid at 30 days, 6 months and 12 months.

HMRC's view of what constitutes a reasonable excuse for late filing may not be the same as the tax tribunal's.

If you are concerned about how these changes might effect you, or would like further guidance feel free to get in touch.

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