Self Assessment – Reasonable Excuses for Missing the Deadline


January is always a busy time in our office, ensuring that we submit our clients’ Self Assessment tax returns before the 31st January deadline.  This year HMRC was expecting around 12.1m tax returns to be filed. Of these expected returns, 11.4m were submitted on time, along with 0.3m unsolicited returns and late registrations. Some 800,000 taxpayers filed on the day of the deadline, with around 36,000 of these filing within the last hour!  At midnight on 31 January, 600,000 expected tax returns were still outstanding.  Some of these people will provide an excuse for missing the deadline – and HMRC will consider if those excuses are “reasonable”.  Some excuses are unusual to say the least – here’s a selection that HMRC has published from previous years:

1. “My tax return was on my yacht…which caught fire”

2. “A wasp in my car caused me to have an accident and my tax return, which was inside, was destroyed”

3. “My wife helps me with my tax return, but she had a headache for ten days”

4. “My dog ate my tax return…and all of the reminders”

5. “I couldn’t complete my tax return, because my husband left me and took our accountant with him. I am currently trying to find a new accountant”

6. “My child scribbled all over the tax return, so I wasn’t able to send it back”

7. “I work for myself, but a colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and lost it”

8. “My husband told me the deadline was the 31st March”

9. “My internet connection failed”

10. “The postman doesn’t deliver to my house”

Don’t be tempted to try using any of these excuses – they were all used in unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties for late returns!

HMRC view the following as potential “reasonable” reasons for submitting your tax return late:

  • 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
  • your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your online return
  • service issues with HMRC’s online services
  • a fire, flood or theft prevented you from completing your tax return
  • postal delays that you could not have predicted
  • delays related to a disability or mental illness you have
  • you were unaware of or misunderstood your legal obligation
  • you relied on someone else to send your return, and they did not

If you have missed the deadline there is help and support available if you have a genuine reason. Get in touch with us and we can help you with your correspondence with HMRC.

Castletons Accountants

Leave a comment