Sorry, a hamster ate my post!

Who says that the taxman hasn’t got a sense of humour? In the run up to the January 31 self-assessment deadline HMRC has decided to share with us the strangest excuses and expense claims received over the past decade.

And the list of bizarre excuses for missing the deadline, coupled with what can only be described as questionable expenses claims, certainly raised a smile in the WNJ office.

HMRC’s top 10 most bizarre excuses and questionable expenses claims of the last decade, in reverse order, are:

• caravan rental for the Easter weekend
• I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a post box or get an internet signal
• my dog ate the post … again
• claiming £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days
• my hamster ate my post
• I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land
• a music subscription so I can listen to music while I work
• pet food for a Shih Tzu ‘guard dog’
• a DJ was too busy with a party lifestyle – spinning the deck….in a bowls club
• my mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me

Needless to say, all the excuses and expenses listed above were unsuccessful.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, says: “Each year, we try to make it as easy and simple as possible for our customers to complete their tax returns and the majority make the effort to do theirs’ right and on time.

“But we still come across some unusual excuses and expenses, which range from problems with a mother-in-law to yachts set on fire.

“We always offer help to those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time. It is unfair to the majority of honest taxpayers when others make bogus claims.”

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 three months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day may be charged, up to a maximum of £900
• after six months, a further penalty of five per cent of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater
• after 12 months, another five per cent or £300 charge, whichever is greater

There are also additional penalties for paying late of five per cent of the tax unpaid at 30 days, six months and 12 months. Interest will be charged on all late payments.

To discuss any tax issues you may have, please contact me on 01772 430000