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'My pet goldfish died': 10 freak excuses for late tax returns

With the deadline for self-assessment tax returns fast approaching, HMRC reveals it 10 favourite excuses for late tax returns.

Smells fishy

‘My pet goldfish died.’ It’s hard to see why this would stop you sending in a tax return, but one self-employed builder thought it was worth a try. Given his profession you’d be forgiven for thinking that he would be an expert at inventing plausible excuses for not getting work done on time!

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Got beef

‘I had a run-in with a cow.’ We’ve all been there. You’re just about to file your tax return and then….you have a run-in with a cow. This was sent in by a Midlands-based farmer, so in fairness it could at least be plausible… sort of. OK, well not really.

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Explosive stuff

‘After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.’

If a volcanic eruption stops you filling in a tax return, what happens if you catch a news item on the outbreak of war or, say, the death of Nelson Mandela? It must be a nightmare trying to balance administrative tasks with avoiding all news, ever.

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Communication breakdown

‘My wife won’t give me my mail.’ There may be genuinely tragic circumstances behind this excuse from a self-employed trader, so probably best not to joke.

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Cutting it fine

‘My husband told me the deadline was 31 March, and I believed him.’ This excuse was used by a Leicester-based hairdresser who missed the cut-off point for her tax return. Let’s hope her hopeless husband wasn’t given the hairdryer treatment when his wife was landed with a £100 penalty.

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Acting up

‘I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play,’ was one excuse from a ‘Coventry writer’. Maybe we’re being harsh, but it’s unlikely HMRC missed out on a bumper tax haul with this one…

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On the naughty step

‘My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is,’ claimed a ‘working taxi driver’. So how did it get up there in the first place?

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Cruising for a bruising

‘I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land,’ claimed ‘South East man’. Cry me a river…

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Financial floundering

Here we go – the one entry in HMRC’s Top 10 from a financial services firm. ‘Our business doesn’t really do anything,’ claimed the Kent company. Can’t say fairer than that.

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Accounting error

Oh, the irony. A London-based accountant has managed to squeeze their way into the list. With the frankly ingenious excuse of ‘I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns.’

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