Aliens, vertigo, and a Glasgow nightclub feature in HMRC’s rejected self-assessment expenses and excuses

18 January 2018

Every year, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) receives imaginative and intriguing excuses for not completing self-assessment tax returns on time.

Ahead of the 31 January deadline for self-assessment, HMRC has released its latest list of rejected excuses and expenses. Rejected recent excuses, declined on the basis that they were either untrue or not good enough reasons, include:

1. I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house.

2. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.

3. My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it.

4. My business doesn’t really do anything.

5. I spilt coffee on it.

So far, rejected expenses include:

1. A three-piece suite for my partner to sit on when I’m doing my accounts.

2. Birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub.

3. Vet fees for a rabbit.

4. Hotel room service – for candles and prosecco.

5. £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC director general of customer services, says: “Each year we’re making it easier and more intuitive for our customers to complete their tax return, but each year we still come across some questionable excuses, whether that’s blaming a busy touring schedule or seeing aliens. However, help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time.

“We also receive absurd expense claims from vet fees for a rabbit to room service at a hotel. It is unfair to make honest taxpayers pick up the bill for other people’s spurious claims, so HMRC will only accept sincere claims such as legitimate expenses for a job.

“If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now - the earlier we’re contacted, the more help we can offer.”

The deadline for sending 2016 to 2017 self-assessment tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2018. Self-assessment customers can now also submit their return via their personal tax account online. It takes five minutes to sign up for an account. 

If you are submitting your 2016 to 2017 self-assessment return online for the first time, you will need to register for ‘SA Online’ first.

HMRC previously announced that it will treat those with genuine excuses leniently, as it is focussing its penalties on those who persistently fail to complete their tax returns and deliberate tax evaders.

This remains the case, although HMRC says the excuse must be genuine and it might ask for evidence.

The penalties for late tax returns are:

  • An initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if there is no tax to pay.
  • After three months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900.
  • After six months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater.
  • 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, six months and 12 months.

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