The Dog Ate My Tax Return
06 January 2015
Are you ready for the January 31 deadline for online tax returns? If not, you had better have a good excuse.
HM Revenue and Customs has released its annual list of the 10 worst excuses people have given for filing or paying their tax return late. Unsurprisingly, none of these led to a successful appeal.
• My pet dog ate my tax return…and all the reminders.
• I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a post box or get an internet signal.
• I fell in with the wrong crowd.
• I’ve been travelling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency.
• Barack Obama is in charge of my finances.
• I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs.
• A work colleague borrowed my tax return, to photocopy it, and didn’t give it back.
• I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park.
• My girlfriend’s pregnant.
• I was in Australia.
What's a 'Reasonable Excuse'?
If you miss the deadline you can appeal to HMRC against some penalties as long as you have a “reasonable excuse” for filing or paying late.
A reasonable excuse is normally something unexpected or outside your control such as your partner died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline, you had an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs or your computer failed when you were preparing your online return. Service issues with HMRC's website, a serious fire or postal delays may also be acceptable reasons.
Bounced cheques, insufficient funds, difficulty using the online system or the lack of a reminder letter are not seen as reasonable excuses.
Tax Returns Must Now Be Submitted Online
The deadline for 2013/14 paper returns passed on October 31, so all outstanding returns must now be submitted online. To do this you must be registered for HMRC Online Services. This involves getting an HMRC Activation Code which can take up to 10 days to receive in the post.
HMRC issues an automatic fixed penalty of £100 for all late returns.
If your tax return is three months late HMRC will start charging daily penalties of £10 per day for a period of up to 90 days – so up to £900 in total. After six months HMRC will charge a penalty of 5pc of the tax due or £300 – whichever is higher.
If you need help and advice on filing your return please get in contact with us immediately.