For Umbrella Company employees there are thankfully no pressures to complete tax returns in time for the 31st January deadline; however, others in the professional contracting community will be scrambling to get their tax affairs in order, perhaps not helped by the release from HMRC of the ten worst excuses for missing the deadline.

While some excuses seem plausible, others stretch credulity and some are positively outlandish; however, according to the Revenue, all have been used in appeals against penalties for late submissions.

A third party is typically blamed and the list of the accused ranges from pets to girlfriends to colleagues at work; in one appeal, the leader of the free world was blamed.

The full list runs as follows:

  1. My pet dog ate my tax return … and all the reminders.
  2. I was up a mountain in Wales and couldn’t find a postbox or get an internet signal.
  3. I fell in with the wrong crowd.
  4. I’ve been travelling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency.
  5. Barack Obama is in charge of my finances.
  6. I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs.
  7. A work colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and didn’t give it back.
  8. I live in a campervan in a supermarket car park.
  9. My girlfriend’s pregnant.
  10. I was in Australia.

Ruth Owen, the Revenue’s director of personal tax, said: “People can have a genuine excuse for missing a tax deadline, but owning a pet with a taste for HMRC envelopes isn’t one of them.”


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