‘My wife is seeing aliens’: Five terrible tax return excuses

It is that time of year again!  Correct, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced its annual list of terrible excuses for non-submission of self-assessment tax returns.  Every year the taxman seems to receive only the most imaginative, bizarre, and – if this year is anything to go by – supernatural claims about why people have been unable to fill out their forms on time.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC director general of customer services, said that people should get in touch if they are having trouble.

‘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.’

1. Aliens exist…

Despite various space agencies, scientific research projects and even amateurs investing their time and energy on space exploration, the answer to the question ‘do aliens exist?’ seems to have come from an unexpected source.

Never one to overpromise and under-deliver, the revenue has said that one customer’s excuse for not filing his tax return on time involved strange creatures from out of space.

‘I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house,’ was apparently one excuse they received.  Not entirely sure what he meant by ‘seeing’, but we can only hope that if the couple were asked to take the creatures to their leader, that HMRC permanent secretary and chief executive would have been top of the list!

2. Thespian Theatrics

We all know the type of person who would try and get away with not submitting their tax return on time with an imaginative excuse.  This one, however, seems to be a bit different.

When questioned by the revenue about why he had not filed on time, one thespian answered:

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

We love this excuse so much, not least because whoever made it must have been deadly serious! The show must go on!

Alas the poor star struck actor was not able to use this excuse to get out of paying the tax man.

3. The ex-wife, vertigo, and some stairs

Of all the events that could combine to create a toxic concoction of inability to send one’s tax return in on time, this has to be one of the best.

So you get divorced, and in a bid to make everything really difficult for you, your ex-wife (knowing full well that you suffer from Vertigo), leaves your tax-return upstairs! What are the chances of that? How could she?!

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

Maybe call her my friend, it is probably worth it to avoid the fine.

4. ‘My business doesn’t really do anything’

Of all the excuses submitted to HMRC for non-submission of tax returns, this one seems to be far too candid for the person’s own good!

‘My business doesn’t really do anything.’

Unfortunately, however true this may or may not be, it probably does not mean that the party involved does not have to fill in a self-assessment form. Even if you earn £0.00, you still need to tell the tax man.

5. I spilt coffee on it

There’s no point crying over spilt milk, but what about spilt coffee?

Well one person was certainly very upset when they spilt coffee all over their lovely tax return. So upset in fact that they were unable to get a new one to send to the taxman in time.

Sadly for the individual HMRC did not accept this excuse for their latte return.   (Sorry!).