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HMRC Recounts Worst Tax Return Excuses

by Robert Lee,, London

18 January 2016

UK tax authority HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has released the "ten worst excuses" given for missing the Self Assessment filing deadline in 2013-14.

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Personal Tax, said: "Untidy family members and hungry pets are very unlikely to be accepted as a legitimate excuse for completing your tax return late."

HMRC said that excuses included "my tax papers were left in the shed and the rat ate them," "I'm not a paperwork orientated person," and "my accountant has been ill." HMRC added that other excuses used in unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties included "I will be abroad on deadline day," "my husband ran over my laptop," and "I had a cold."

HMRC stressed that while it will not accept spurious excuses, it does recognize that taxpayers may have difficulties completing their tax returns on time. It explained that those affected by flooding at their premises, or their tax agents' premises, will not be asked to pay a penalty if their return is submitted without unreasonable delay. The Department has also opened a tax helpline, which provides practical help and advice to those affected by severe weather and flooding.

The deadline for Self Assessment tax returns is January 31. An initial GBP100 (USD143) fixed penalty applies in the case of a late return, even if there is no tax to pay. After three months, additional penalties of GBP10 per day apply, up to a maximum of GBP900. After six months, a further penalty of five percent of the tax due or GBP300 applies (whichever is greater), and after 12 months, another five percent or GBP300 charge is imposed.

Owen said: "We understand that life can be unpredictable and for those customers who have a genuine excuse for missing the January 31 deadline, such as the flooding, help is on hand. My advice would be to contact us through our helplines or online, as soon as possible. But for those who are trying to play the system, while the rest of us do the right thing, the message is clear: submit your tax return online by January 31 or face a fine. We're here to help people in genuine distress, but not to act as a free lender to people who can't meet their responsibilities to pay their tax."

TAGS: compliance | tax | tax compliance | Personal Tax | United Kingdom | tax authority | HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) | revenue statistics | penalties | HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) | individual income tax | Tax

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