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Haines Watts Exeter Phone icon 01392 260310

Recently HMRC has revealed some of the strange and unusual excuses taxpayers have given for missing the self-assessment deadline over the past decade. One person claimed to have been cursed by their mother-in-law while another blamed their hamster, saying it had eaten their post. The list of “weird and wonderful” excuses, released ahead of the January 31 cut-off, also details how a DJ said he had been too busy partying in a bowls club to file a return, while someone else said they were unable to collect the forms as they were cruising round the world in their yacht.

The taxman also detailed some of the most bizarre claims that had been submitted, including one for tax relief on 250 days’ worth of sausage and chips meals. Angela MacDonald, HMRC director general of customer services, said: “We always offer help to those who have a genuine excuse. It is unfair to the majority of honest taxpayers when others make bogus claims.”

On the not-so-light-side, a recent analysis suggests that HMRC is set to make at least £70m from fines related to late tax returns this year. With the January 31 deadline approaching, people need to be reminded that those required to complete a self-assessment tax return that even missing the cut-off by a single day could incur an automatic £100 fine.

From each extra day of delays, the fine climbs by £10 to a maximum of £900. After six months individuals can then receive another fine of £300 – or 5% of the tax they owe. After a year, if the return still hasn’t been submitted, another fine of £300 can be issued.

Last year, 93% of tax returns were completed on time, while the number of people missing the deadline has hovered around the 700,000 mark in recent years – which results in the very lucrative £70m. The evidence also suggests that most of these late returns are from individuals that do not use an accountant.

Should you have any questions with regards to any of the above please contact your local Haines Watts office and speak to a tax specialist.

Useful Information

HMRC website

Taxes Made Easy Guide 2019-2020

Haines Watts Tax Factsheets

Want to know more? Call us on 01392 260310 or email

About the author

Ben de Cruz

Ben qualified in London before moving to Exeter with his family in 1992, and he has been a partner since 1994.

The Exeter office joined the Haines Watts Group in 2005 and since then additional offices have been added in the South West, in Barnstaple, Launceston, Okehampton and Crediton. Ben is now the managing partner of these offices.

Ben is also responsible for a diverse portfolio of clients, most of whom are the owner managers of their businesses, and have a turnover of between £1M and £30M.

It is Ben’s firm belief that by being pro-active in his approach to advising his clients, they can gain competitive advantage to develop and strengthen their businesses. He also acts as a non-executive director for charitable and not for profit organisations.

Outside of work, Ben has an interest in military history and enjoys walking the battlefields of Europe and beyond.

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