Erica Manderfield: No excuse is a good excuse for missing your tax return deadline

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Were you one of the growing number of people who filed their tax return on Christmas Day? Or are you still looking for an excuse not to do it?

According to the Revenue a record number of people filed their tax return on Christmas Day last year, with 2044 people perhaps preferring to do this as opposed other more festive activities.

The number doing so was up 13% on the previous year and it is expected to be up again this year.

Whether those people completing their return were doing so because they were hoping for a tax rebate to pay for presents, or they just wanted to take advantage of optimum internet connectivity to complete their return, who knows?

There will still be many people who will not have completed their tax return by the January 31 deadline and will probably be looking for an excuse not to.

HMRC has released its list of the ten worst, or perhaps best, excuses for the late filing of tax returns.

Whilst the list starts with a more typical school boys or girls response for not completing their homework, the ones that follow certainly seem no more effective in justifying not completing a return or the ability to seek forgiveness or tolerance from the Revenue.

For those that have completed their return the list that follows will provide some light relief:

  1. “My tax return was on my yacht…which caught fire.”
  2. “A wasp in my car caused me to have an accident and my tax return, which was inside, was destroyed.”
  3. “My wife helps me with my tax return, but she had a headache for ten days.”
  4. “My dog ate my tax return…and all of the reminders.”
  5. “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.”
  6. “My child scribbled all over the tax return, so I wasn’t able to send it back.”
  7. “I work for myself, but a colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and lost it.”
  8. “My husband told me the deadline was 31st March.”
  9. “My internet connection failed.”
  10. “The postman doesn’t deliver to my house.”

For those who made no effort to sort their return, or even check if they needed to file a return, the list might be food for thought for more plausible excuses for not completing your return on time.

Such excuses are not likely to carry favour with HMRC – however plausible they are.

Certainly it might be the case that your time may be better spent actually buckling down and getting your tax affairs in order.

Why? Because if you miss the deadline for filing, you will face a financial penalty from HMRC. You may also find that HMRC, in the absence of your return, calculate the tax they feel is due and then issue you with a tax demand to pay, which will include interest and penalties for late payment and for not filing a return, but might also overstate your income.

If you have a genuine ‘reasonable excuse’ you can appeal against the penalty.

It does though have to be ‘reasonable’ and not just that you have not done it or even that you didn’t know you should have done one.