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The fantastical excuses and expense claims of self-assessment tax returns

Every year a host of individuals across the country who fail to fill in their self-assessment tax return on time manage to come up with the weirdest excuses as to why.

These excuses can be so bizarre that it’s questionable whether they are desperate attempts to find a genuine excuse or some kind of expensive prank.

Here are five that really take the cake:

  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 a client for self-assessment by mistake because they were not wearing their glasses.
  5. My boiler had broken and my fingers were too cold to type.

Expenses are a guaranteed part of owning a business, which is why HMRC allow for tax breaks depending on how much you’ve spent and what you’ve spent it on. Some people like to take advantage of that though and claim on items that seem as though they’re a little more for pleasure than business.

Here are five pleasure expenses:

  1. A carpenter claiming £900 for a 55-inch TV and sound bar to help them price their jobs.
  2. £40 on extra woolly underwear, for five years.
  3. £756 for pet dog insurance.
  4. A music subscription, to listen to music while working.
  5. A family holiday to Nigeria.

The excuses and expenses listed were all rejected by HMRC. Genuine excuses will be treated leniently, however, as fines are more directed at those that fail to submit their tax returns consistently – this doesn’t mean that you can avoid fines by having a good excuse though.


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