The 10 most ridiculous excuses for not submitting your Self Assessment tax return on time

The 31 January 2017 Self Assessment tax return deadline is fast approaching. While the best option is always to submit your tax return on time, if you do have an excuse, we recommend that you avoid using one from the list below.


According to HMRC, none of these excuses have led to a successful appeal:

  1. “I’ve been travelling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency.”
  2. “I had a run-in with a cow.”
  3. “Barack Obama is in charge of my finances.”
  4. “A work colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and didn’t give it back.”
  5. “I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park.”
  6. “My tax papers were left in the shed and a rat ate them.”
  7. “I’m not a paperwork orientated person – I always relied on my sister to complete my returns but we have fallen out.”
  8. “My accountant has been ill.”
  9. “My niece had moved in – she made the house so untidy I could not find my login details to complete my return online.”
  10. “I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for five years.”

What is a reasonable excuse?

According to HMRC, a reasonable excuse is normally something unexpected or outside your control.

Some examples it gives are:

  • Your partner or another close relative died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline
  • You had an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs
  • You had a serious or life-threatening illness
  • Service issues with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) online services
  • Postal delays that you couldn’t have predicted

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, says, “There will always be help and support available for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time. If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now – the earlier we’re contacted, the better.”

It’s always the best practice to get your return completed and submitted as soon as possible and to not wait until the deadline.


1st Contact Accounting can ensure your returns are submitted quickly, easily and on time. Email us or visit our website and let us find the perfect service to fit your needs.