Self Assessment returns: unbelievable excuses and dubious expenses

on February 28, 2019

A total of 93.68% of Self Assessment tax returns – a new record – were completed by the deadline, HMRC reveals.

More than 11.5 million taxpayers were required to file their 2017/18 tax returns by 11.59pm on 31 January. The majority filed on time, but 700,000 customers missed the deadline. This was little changed from the 746,000 who missed it a year ago.

Last month, HMRC revealed the top five weird excuses and outlandish expenses, all of which were rejected. These taxpayers were required to pay a £100 penalty in addition to any tax owed.

Some of the most bizarre excuses HMRC received from customers who missed the Self Assessment deadline include being too short to reach the post box and having fingers too cold to type. Here are some of the strangest from the past year:

  1. My mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me
  2. I’m too short to reach the post box
  3. I was just too busy – my first maid left, my second maid stole from me, and my third maid was very slow to learn
  4. Our junior member of staff registered our client in Self Assessment by mistake because they were not wearing their glasses
  5. My boiler had broken, and my fingers were too cold to type

As well as unbelievable excuses, every year HMRC also receives some dubious expenses claims:

  1. A carpenter claiming £900 for a 55-inch TV and sound bar to help him price his jobs
  2. £40 on extra woolly underwear, for 5 years
  3. £756 for my pet dog insurance
  4. A music subscription, so I can listen to music while I work
  5. A family holiday to Nigeria

Any taxpayer who has missed the deadline should contact HMRC. The department will treat those with genuine excuses leniently, as it focuses penalties on those who persistently fail to complete their tax returns and deliberate tax evaders. The excuse must be genuine and HMRC may ask for evidence.

Please contact our team at Outsourced ACC on 0208 249 6007 for free consultation and help on how to appeal the penalty if you have missed the deadline.

 Further Information

Self Assessment facts summary (all figures refer to 31 January 2019 deadline):

  • 11,564,363 total SA returns due
  • 10,833,177 returns received (93.68%)
  • 731,186 taxpayers missed the deadline
  • 735,258 taxpayers filed their returns on 31 January, peak filing hour was 4-5pm (60,000 returns received)
  • 10,129,234 returns were filed online (93.5% of total filed)

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; and
  • after 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater.
  • There are also additional penalties for paying late of 5% of the tax unpaid at 30 days, 6 months and 12 months.
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