Tax return season may be a distant memory, but that doesn’t mean we can't look back fondly, safe in the knowledge that we won’t be included in any lists like this one.

20 brilliant but terrible excuses for filing a late tax return

Every year HMRC receive some cracking excuses from Self Assessment customers as to why they didn’t complete their tax return on time.

Here are just some of the most bizarre and over the top excuses that have been submitted over the last few years (unfortunately, none of them convinced HMRC).

Spoiler: ‘the dog ate my tax return’ isn’t going to cut it with HMRC.

Read on to see our favourite excuses:

  1. A wasp in my car caused me to have an accident and my tax return, which was inside, was destroyed
  2. My wife won’t give me my mail
  3. I couldn’t complete my tax return because my husband left me and took our accountant with him. I am currently trying to find a new accountant
  4. My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is
  5. Our business doesn’t really do anything
  6. My husband told me the deadline was 31 March, and I believed him
  7. My tax return was on my yacht…which caught fire
  8. A work colleague borrowed my tax return, to photocopy it, and didn’t give it back
  9. The postman doesn’t deliver to my house
  10. My husband ran over my laptop
  11. My pet dog ate my tax return…and all the reminders
  12. I fell in with the wrong crowd
  13. I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns
  14. My wife helps me with my tax return, but she had a headache for ten days
  15. I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a postbox or get an internet signal
  16. My pet goldfish died
  17. I’ve been traveling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency
  18. After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else
  19. My internet connection failed
  20. Barack Obama is in charge of my finances

The deadline for submitting your self-assessment online is 31st January, and if you miss it, you’ll be rewarded with a £100 fine!

Although there are certain circumstances that HMRC accept as being exceptional or unexpected and outside of your control, such as a recent bereavement in your immediate family, issues with the online service with no work-around (although you’ll have to document the error message that was received), or flooding at your business/agents premises.

People can have a genuine excuse for missing a tax deadline, but owning a pet with a taste for HMRC envelopes isn’t one of them.

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Personal Tax

If you are struggling to meet the deadline, contact HRMC via the Self Assessment helpline for practical help and advice on: 0300 200 3310, or get help online via the website:



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