"My dog ate my tax return... and all the reminders!"

As you can imagine, January is a very busy month for KBL Accounts.

But although I am slightly snowed under with paperwork, I thought this was worthy of sharing with you all. It's also highly amusing!

HMRC, aka The Taxman, has just published its annual list of the outlandish, unbelievable and downright crazy excuses for people filing their tax returns late.

There are tall tales involving burning yachts, wasp attacks and naughty children as well as the old classic - “My dog ate my tax return" - although this year the pooch also swallowed all the reminders too!

Here are the top ten worst excuses for tardy timekeeping in all their glory:

1. My tax papers were left in the shed and the rat ate them
2. I’m not a paperwork orientated person – I always relied on my sister to complete my returns but we have now fallen out.
3. My accountant has been ill.
4. My dog ate my tax return - and all the reminders.
5. I will be abroad on deadline day with no internet access so will be unable to file.
6. My laptop broke, so did my washing machine.
7. My niece had moved in – she made the house so untidy I could not find my log in details to complete my return online.
8. My husband ran over my laptop
9. I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for five years.
10. I had a cold which took a long time to go away.

As you can imagine, all these excuses were unsuccessful in appeals against HMRC penalties for late returns.

Having said that, while HMRC will not accept spurious excuses, it does recognise that a number taxpayers may have difficulties completing their tax return on time.

For instance, those affected by flooding at their premises, or their agents’ premises, will not be asked to pay a penalty if their return is submitted without unreasonable delay.

The department has also opened a Tax Helpline to give practical help and advice to people affected by severe weather and flooding – 0800 904 7900.

The penalties for late tax returns are:
An initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time;
- after 3 months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900;
- after 6 months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater; and
- after 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater.

Really, the only advice I can give you if this January is this - don't put your head in the sand!

The deadline for sending 2014-15 tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2017.

If you are submitting your 2014-15 Self Assessment return online for the first time, you will need to register for SA Online. Registering for online filing is simple – you can do it at online.hmrc.gov.uk/registration.

Help is available from the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk/self-assessment-tax-returns or from the Self Assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310.

Alternatively, give us a call!