Funniest Excuses for Not Filing a Tax Return on Time

The deadline for UK self-assessment tax returns is banging on the door and with it the usual excuses.

The self-assessment deadline for tax returns covering income from 06 April 2019 to 05 April 2020 is midnight on 31 January 2021; submitting just a day late could result in a penalty of £100.

Despite the submission deadline is 9 months and 25 after the tax year end, it is still challenging to complete and submit your self-assessment tax return by the tax return deadline.

But with penalties for filing late, it’s essential to do it on time.

With that in mind, here are the funniest taxpayers’ excuses for not filing tax on time released by the HMRC. Enjoy!

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1. ‘My tax papers were left in the shed, and the rat ate them.’

Okay! So let’s discuss the first one, this not so generous excuse is inspired from the classic novel ‘the dog ate my homework’ I guess.

Add in the shed setting for a bit of colour and Bravo! What a foolproof excuse you got for not doing your tax return. But Opss! It turns out; you don’t.

And come on! Cloud-based software are now widely used by taxpayers and accountants to prepare and submit the tax returns. With Making Tax Digital coming in from 2023, alas, this reason will be dead forever!

2.’My laptop broke, so did my washing machine.’

Here comes a solid excuse!

Actually, we can say the laptop part here is almost fair enough, yet it is slightly undermined by the availability of literally thousands of other computers and laptops.

The washing machine part is a little more confusing but helps frame a picture of a poor taxpayer betrayed by the very technology he or she relies on.

Oh, wait…you were trying to clean your laptop in the washing machine and…!!!

 3.  ‘I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for five years’

It is not new to have arguments with our closed ones but how someone can take extreme steps like five-years of hiatus in Italy for such a silly thing!!

It sounds like there is more we are not aware of, but sadly we will never be able to know. 

Anyway! Moral of the story – Some silly fights can end up in penalty.

4. ‘My husband ran over my laptop.’

And this is the best one while crafting excuses you can imagine something like my brother’s artist little kid came and ruin my tax return.

But a big No! Because this times it’s that bloody SUV of your husband.

Yet who left poor laptop in the driveway for being murdered remains unclear!

Whatever laptop needs justice for sure.

5. ‘I will be abroad on deadline day with no internet access so I will be unable to file.’

And here is the modern twist on the classic leave note.

Okay fine, you are checking football scores, ordering meals, updating social media status but not able to do tax.

Alas, sometimes the internet gives a real hard time!

I think we need Elon Musk’s Starlink internet as soon as possible!

6. ‘I was in a coma.’

Oh, this can work!

But what about your snaps and Instagram feed filled with pictures of you throwing your signature moves down at your local club when you supposed to be in “Coma”- This applies despite how bad your dancing moves might be.

7. ‘I’ve been kidnapped by pirates.’

HMRC can’t say a word if this excuse came from a sea captain on an ocean freighter and the pirates were from Somalia (referencing Tom Hanks, people).

However, it’s a little controversial yet workable.

And please never mention to the HMRC that you are a distant cousin of Captain Jack Sparrow or Barbossa!

8. ‘I’m Batman; I don’t pay taxes.’

This excuse will work if you are Michael Keaton (Batman series actor) or Christian Bale (Batman series actress).

But the sad part is that you are not!

9.  ‘My dog ate my tax return.’

An oldie but a goodie. What is it with dogs and eating important documents?

They can’t get enough of them, poor little mutts!

But again! Why people forget digitization when it comes to taxes.

Wait! Don’t tell me now the dog ate your computer itself!!

 10.’I had a cold which took a long time to go.’

And finally, something similar to COVID-19 but just a cold will never work here.

A government’s money-grabbing and the faceless organ would be so cruel to dismiss someone suffering from just minor cold. Oh, wait…sorry!

Well! There’s a bunch of such excuse; these were just selected ones.

So dear readers, you can show your creativity while making excuses, but one drawback here is that excuses like these don’t really work.

Also, read our blog tips for year-end tax planning to start preparing for the coming tax year.

So, What Count As Reasonable Excuses?

In case you have a good reason for a delay, you may be able to appeal against the penalty. 

The HMRC lists several common examples of Reasonable that contains:

  • Your partner or one of your close relatives died shortly before the deadline of tax return or tax payment
  • Unexpected stay in hospital
  • Very serious or life-threatening illness
  • The computer or software failed just before or while you were doing your tax return online
  • A flood, fire or theft prevented you from completing your tax return
  • Service issues with HMRC online services
  • Postal delays
  • Delays related to a disability

If you are affected by COVID-19

According to the HMRC, COVID-19 is a reasonable excuse for filing your tax return late.

You just have to explain HMRC how you were affected by the COVID-19 in your appeal. Still, you must make the return or payment as soon as you can.

Also, visit our blog related to COVID-19 Self Employment Income Support Scheme to know more about it.

The Penalties for Late Tax Returns

If you miss the tax return deadline, you will be fined by HMRC no matter how small your tax liability is or you are late for just a season or so.

Penalties for late filing of your tax return are currently as below:

  • 1 day late – an automatic fixed penalty of £100 (waived till 28 February 2021)
  • 3 months late – £10/day up to the 90 maximum of £900
  • 6 months late – £300 or 5% of a tax due 
  • 12 months late – £300 or 5% of the tax due 

Above mentioned penalties are in addition to one another.

With this in mind we can say that the minimum late filing penalty (12-months late) will be more than £1,600 depending on the tax liability. 

Penalties for late payment of tax are:

  • 30 days late – 5% of the tax due
  • Six months late – 5% of the outstanding tax due at that date
  • 12 months late – 5% of the outstanding tax due at that date

HMRC will charge interest on the outstanding tax due on top of these penalties at a rate of 2.6%.

Hire Tax Accountant

Work with UK-based Experts for tax, audit, accounting, payroll, & EIS/ SEIS needs.

Have a question? Call us on
0203 983 8100
Monday to Friday 9am – 4:30pm

Wrapping up

As we all know, tax returns can be tricky and take too much time, but late filing is not an option. So, you can do one thing for sure! Save your time and money by hiring an accountant or tax advisor. Match yourself with top-notch professionals on Experlu now and leave your tax burden to them.

Experlu Editorial Team
The editorial team at Experlu is comprised of seasoned financial professionals dedicated to providing high-quality content on accounting and finance. With a wealth of experience and diverse expertise, the team produces insightful articles that have established the Experlu blog as the UK's leading financial and accounting resource. The team includes accountants, auditors, and business advisors who stay updated with the latest industry developments. Their commitment to excellence ensures that Experlu remains a trusted source of information, helping readers stay informed about audit, business, finance, and tax matters.