Were you one of the growing number of people who filed their tax return on Christmas Day? – Erica Manderfield, Tax Partner at Streets Chartered Accountants

Erica Manderfield, Tax Partner at Streets Chartered Accountants, discusses tax returns and some rather brilliant excuses for not filing them on time.

According to the Revenue a record number of people filed their tax return on Christmas Day last year, with 2600 people perhaps preferring to do this as opposed other more festive activities. The number doing so was up on the previous year.

Whether those people completing their return were doing so because they were hoping for a tax rebate to pay for presents, or they just wanted to take advantage of optimum internet connectivity to complete their return, who knows? There will still be many people who do not complete their tax return by the 31st January deadline and will probably be looking for an excuse as to why they didn’t.

HMRC has released its list of some of the worst, or perhaps best, excuses for the late filing of tax returns. Whilst the Revenue undoubtedly receive excuses such as the dog ate my return and other more typical school boy responses for not completing their homework, the ones that follow certainly seem no more effective in justifying not completing a return or the ability to seek forgiveness or tolerance from the Revenue.

For those who have completed their return, the list that follows will provide some light relief:
1. I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house.
2. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.
3. My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it.
4. I’ve been just too busy – my first maid left, my second maid stole from me, and my third maid was very slow to learn
5. My mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me

For those who made no effort to sort their return, or even check if they needed to file a return, the list might be food for thought for more plausible excuses for not completing your return on time. Such excuses are not likely to carry favour with HMRC, however plausible they are.

Certainly it might be the case that your time may be better spent actually buckling down and getting your tax affairs in order. Why? Because if you miss the deadline for filing you will face a financial penalty from HMRC. You may also find that HMRC, in the absence of your return, calculate the tax they feel is due and then issue you with a tax demand to pay, which will include interest and penalties for late payment and for not filing a return, but might also overstate your income.

If you have a genuine ‘reasonable excuse’ you can appeal against the penalty. It does though have to be ‘reasonable’ and not just that you have not done it or even that you didn’t know you should have done one.

For a growing number of people the best approach to dealing with their tax return is to enlist the services of a tax professional, someone who can complete your return in a timely and efficient manner and one that ensures you only pay what is due.