‘MY Mother-in-law is a Witch’ and other Missed Deadline Excuses…

As a tax adviser, January is dominated by the final push to meet the tax return filing deadline. It can be stressful but it is also quite exhilarating to successfully beat the 31st January cut-off date.

That said, despite our best efforts, some clients will leave things later than they should which makes January the busiest month of the year.

It’s been reported that the number of taxpayers leaving their tax return filing to close to the deadline is increasing. 735,000 people filed their return on 31st January, a 29% increase on five years ago, with 30,000 people having filed between 11pm and midnight on deadline day.

Around 700,000 people missed the deadline and now face an automatic £100 penalty. It is possible to contest the penalty if you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ for missing the deadline. Genuine accepted reasons include physical or mental disability, death of a family member and serious problems with online filing.

HMRC receives some unbelievable excuses for late filing of tax returns and recently revealed some of the strangest from the past year. The top five were as follows:

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.

Unsurprisingly HMRC didn’t accept any of these excuses.

On a more serious note, if you have missed the deadline it’s essential you make every effort to file your return and pay your tax liability ASAP. Further penalties will apply if the return is still outstanding after 3 months. There are also additional penalties for paying your tax late of 5% of the unpaid tax after 30 days, 6 months and 12 months.

Now that the dust has settled on 31st January, if you were a late or last minute tax return filer make a resolution to do things differently next time ‘round. Get organised to file your tax return in good time either by providing your accountant with the information earlier or by getting to grips with it yourself. Apart from avoiding unnecessary penalties, it will be much less stressful and allow time to properly plan and budget for your tax liabilities.

For tax planning help and advice contact Andrew Mitchell, Tax Partner, Armstrong Watson on 01756 620000 or email andrew.mitchell@armstrongwatson.co.uk.