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Deadlines and penalties

The January deadline for personal Self-Assessment returns will soon be on us so I thought I’d share some of the worst excuses for late returns the tax office have heard.

  1. My tax papers were left in the shed and the rat ate them
  2. I’m not a paperwork orientated person – I always relied on my sister to complete my returns but we have now fallen out
  3. My accountant has been ill
  4. My dog ate my tax return
  5. I will be abroad on deadline day with no internet access so will be unable to file
  6. My laptop broke, so did my washing machine
  7. My niece had moved in – she made the house so untidy I could not find my log in details to complete my return online
  8. My husband ran over my laptop
  9. I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for 5 years
  10. I had a cold which took a long time to go

The rule is that to avoid a fine you need a reasonable excuse – the problem is that this is not defined by the legislation.

The tax office opinion is that an excuse is reasonable where some “unforeseeable and exceptional event” beyond the taxpayer’s control is responsible for the compliance failure. This includes losing documents through theft, fire or flood, strikes and systems failures by the tax office, IT issues such as virus and broadband not working as well as serious illness and even postage delays.

Image from Flickr by Ryan Hyde.

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