Top 10 actual excuses for submitting a tax return late

As the deadline for the filing of our tax returns thunders towards us, hopefully you can smile slightly smugly knowing yours was either sent to the accountant or filed by you some time ago…but what if it wasn’t?

Charges and excuses for filing a tax return late

You were meaning to get it done after the summer holidays but, you blinked and it was then downhill to Christmas with its associated hectic diary of school nativity plays, work Christmas dos and family get togethers, all the while work was getting busier and busier every day.

You now find yourself in January, slightly heavier around the middle and STILL without your tax return filed, with no time between now and the 31st January deadline to rectify the situation…Ahhhh!!!

Lightbulb moment!

Can’t you appeal to HMRC against incurring penalties as long as you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ for filing or paying late? You’re not alone in pinning your hopes on such a last ditch attempt to evade late penalties but beware, the HMRC have heard them all!

Here is a list of actual excuses used for late filing recently released by the HMRC:

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 post box 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.   My ex-wife left the tax return upstairs and I cannot retrieve it because I suffer from vertigo.
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 camper van in a supermarket car park.
9.   My girlfriend’s pregnant.
10. I was in Australia.

It’s time to bite the bullet!

It’s now too late for paper tax returns to be submitted so you must register with HMRC Online Services. You’ll need an HMRC Activation Code which can take up to 10 days to receive in the post.

If you struggle to make neither head nor tail of the online system, there is a helpdesk number, 0300 200 3600, but expect long waiting times. The online system is pretty straightforward and isn’t terribly time consuming for simple returns.

But what if you don’t manage it in time?

Filing your tax return late

Late filing charges can be pretty hefty. You may need to scroll left and right if you’re viewing the table below on a small screen.

Number of Days/Months Late Penalty Charge*
1 day late £100 fine
3 months late £10 a day fine up to a maximum of £900 (90 days) for every day your tax return is late
6 months late £300 fine or 5% of the tax due, whichever is greater
12 months late Another £300 fine or 5% of the tax you owe, whichever is greater

In the most serious cases, you may be fined 100% of the tax due – doubling your tax bill!

Paying your tax bill late

As well as late filing penalties, there are also penalties if you pay your tax bill late. You may need to scroll left and right if you’re viewing the table below on a small screen.

Number of Days/Months Late Penalty Charge*
30 days late 5% charge on the tax owing on that day
6 months late A further 5% charge on the tax owing on that day
12 months late A further 5% charge on the tax owing on that day

* Interest: These penalties do not include interest. HMRC will charge interest on any tax owing and on the penalties and charges incurred as a result of the late payment of tax owed. Interest is currently charged at a rate of 3.25% (January 2019).

The final point

If you’ve yet to complete your tax return, please DO IT TONIGHT! All things considered, it’s worth an evening and a strong pot of coffee to get your tax return completed and submitted sooner rather than later! Leave the excuses as relics of past homework neglect and save yourself unnecessary penalties.

Which of the top 10 actual excuses is your favourite? Let us know by adding a comment below.

Source: HMRCThe Week

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