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Strangest excuses for missing the Self Assessment deadline

Last year one taxpayer claimed that they couldn’t file their return on time because their wife has been seeing aliens and wouldn’t let them enter the house, this year a witch's hex prevented another from filing on time.


  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

Along with some of the more bizzare excuses, HMRC also revealed the dubious expense claims received this year, including unconvincing items like a 55-inch TV and woolly underwear.


  1. A carpenter claiming £900 for a 55-inch TV and sound bar to help him price his jobs
  2. £40 on extra woolly underwear, for five years
  3. £756 for pet dog insurance
  4. A music subscription to listen at work
  5. A family holiday to Nigeria

HMRC publishes this list every January to raise awareness of the January 31 self assessment deadline. Penalties for late tax returns start at an initial £100 fixed penalty and after three months increases to £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900.

The tax authority declined all the excuses listed in the top five because they were untrue or not good enough, but those that are able to provide a reasonable excuse before the deadline can avoid a penalty.

Responding to the list, HMRC director general of customer services Angela MacDonald said: “We want to make it as simple as possible for our customers to do their tax returns and the majority make the effort to do theirs right and on time. But each year we still come across some poor excuses and expenses.”

Last year, more than a quarter (26.6%) of all returns were submitted on 30 and 31 January, with 30,348 of those left until the last hour, between 11pm and 11.59pm.

However, 745,588 people missed the deadline and received fines of £100 or more for late filing.