HMRC reveals worst excuses for late self assessments

As a self-employed individual it’s important to file your self-assessment form on time. However, with the 31st January deadline looming near, HMRC have revealed some of the worst excuses for tardy tax returns.

The government department states that it can apply some leniency with late returns, but only in certain situations.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC Director General for Customer Services states: “Help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time but it’s unfair to the majority of honest taxpayers when others make bogus claims.”

And looking at some of the strangest reasons given for late submissions we can see why there may be some frustration in the HMRC offices at times.

Five of the worst excuses

Genuine reasons for late tax returns are one thing, but this quintet are somewhat harder to believe.

Here are the five worst excuses HMRC received last year:

1. “My mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me.”

2. “I’m too short to reach the post box.”

3. “I was just too busy – my first maid left, my second maid stole from me, and my third maid was very slow to learn.”

4. “Our junior member of staff registered our client in Self Assessment by mistake because they were not wearing their glasses.”

5. “My boiler had broken and my fingers were too cold to type.”

Whether you are a personal trainer, a professional dog walker or a massage therapist, if you find yourself stretching for some of these excuses it’s probably best not to bother trying.

Penalties for late self-assessment

If you feel that you are going to be late returning your self-assessment form, you could still avoid a penalty by contacting HMRC and letting them know the (genuine) reason your form will be delayed.

However, left too late and the penalties can soon start to add up.

Even if you do not have any extra tax to pay, a late return with no valid excuse automatically sees an individual handed a £100 fine.

Three months after the date has passed, a £10 penalty for each late day is added to the penalty, up to a total of £900.

Leave it another three months on top of that and a further penalty of 5% of the value of the tax due is added. However, this figure is revised to £300 if the outstanding tax is less than £6,000.

If an individual goes a whole 12 months without returning their self-assessment a further fine of 5% of the tax owed, or an addition £300 (whichever is greater) is added onto the penalty.

As a self-employed individual the fines involved with late self-assessment are vast. Ensure you do it by the deadline of January 31st to avoid such penalties. You can access the self-assessment form on the HMRC website.


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