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“I had a run-in with a cow” and other bizarre excuses for not getting your tax return in on time

One man said he had 'a run in with a cow' which meant his tax return was sent in late. Picture: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images One man said he had 'a run in with a cow' which meant his tax return was sent in late. Picture: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Thursday, January 2, 2014
4:05 PM

With the dreaded January 31 tax return deadline just around the corner, HM Revenue and Customs has revealed the ‘Top 10 oddest excuses’ for sending a self-assessment form in late.

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Top 10 excuses for late tax returns

1. My pet goldfish died (self-employed builder)

2. I had a run-in with a cow (Midlands farmer)

3. After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else (London woman)

4. My wife won’t give me my mail (self-employed trader)

5. My husband told me the deadline was 31 March, and I believed him (Leicester hairdresser)

6. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play (Coventry writer)

7. My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is (a working taxi driver)

8. I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land (South East man)

9. Our business doesn’t really do anything (Kent financial services firm)

10. I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns (London accountant)

(source: HMRC)

Ranging from a husband whose wife wouldn’t let him see his mail, to a woman unable to concentrate after seeing a volcano erupt on television, the only reward for their creativity was a £100 fine.

The bizarre, exotic and flimsy excuses, were all used by people and businesses to appeal against the penalty, but unsurprisingly were unsuccessful.

HMRC’s Director General of Personal Tax, Ruth Owen, said: “There will always be unforeseen events that mean a taxpayer could not file their tax return on time.

“However, your pet goldfish passing away isn’t one of them.”

She said anybody who hasn’t yet sent a 2012/13 tax return needs to do it online by the end of January, adding that with all the help and advice available, there is no excuse not to, especially if the excuse is that your goldfish has just died.

For more information on self-assessment click here or call the helpline on 0300 200 3310.

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