Practitioners who follow HMRC’s regular output of announcements may have come across the latest excuses for late or non-filing of a tax return. They include the classical:
I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house.
And for an encore:
My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it.
Obviously, these excuses will not pass muster as a reasonable excuse, but are they evidence that HMRC is developing a sense of humour? More practically, do we want a tax authority prone to making light of tax legislation?
Certainly, it would make conversation regarding clients’ affairs difficult to judge. Image the old chestnut “…relax, I was only joking” being added to HMRC correspondence.
And of course, it requires only a minor stretch of the imagination to reinterpret well-used phrases such as:
- Trivial benefits
- Personal affairs, or
- An adventure in the nature of a trade
I’m sure readers could think of many more?
The full list of excuses published by HMRC is reproduced below.
- I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house.
- I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.
- My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it.
- My business doesn’t really do anything.
- I spilt coffee on it.
As well as the excuses, HMRC also receives some questionable items which taxpayers have tried to expense:
- A three-piece suite for my partner to sit on when I’m doing my accounts.
- Birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub.
- Vet fees for a rabbit.
- Hotel room service – for candles and prosecco.
- £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days.
Needless to say, the excuses and expenses listed above were all rejected.