‘My tax return was on my yacht, which caught fire’

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Government officials have revealed some of the unlikely excuses people came up with for not filling in a tax return on time.

The ‘Top 10’ responses have been published by HM Revenue and Customs in an effort to persuade more people to meet the looming January 31 deadline.

The most unusual excuses were:

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 the 31st March.

9. My internet connection failed.

10. The postman doesn’t deliver to my house.

All were used in appeals against HMRC penalties for late returns - and all were unsuccessful

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, said: ‘Blaming the postman, arguing with family members and pesky insects – it’s easy to see that some excuses for not completing a tax return on time can be more questionable than others. Luckily, it’s only a small minority who chance their arm.

‘But there will always be help and support available for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time. If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now - the earlier we’re contacted, the better.’

The deadline for sending 2015-16 Self Assessment tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2017.

HMRC says self assessment customers can now also submit their return via their Personal Tax Account. A spokesman said: ‘It takes five minutes to sign up for an account at www.gov.uk/personal-tax-account.’

There are around 1.9 million people registered for Self Assessment in South East England.