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The worst excuses for late tax returns

27/01/14

Albert Einstein, who invented the theory of relativity and is widely considered one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, reportedly found income tax an almost incomprehensible burden.

If it baffled him, it's understandable that normal people might find it difficult to fill out their tax returns - and a list of excuses for not doing so published by HM Revenues and Customs suggests that many Britons try their best to avoid the onerous task.

Topping the charts is a self-employed builder who told the organisation he hadn't returned his forms because of the death of his goldfish. Losing a pet is always sad, but possibly doesn't wash as a reason for not sorting out your tax.

A Midlands farmer was delayed by a run-in with a cow, while a woman in London was flooded by vicarious trauma after seeing a volcanic eruption on television and apparently being left unable to concentrate on anything else.

Other excuses included the complaint from one hen-pecked husband that his wife wouldn't show him the mail, and a financial services firm in Kent that suggested its business didn't really do anything and as such shouldn't need to pay any tax.

HMRC's director general of personal tax Ruth Owen said that, while these were outliers, there will always be a few people who try to get out of paying their share.

"If you haven’t yet sent your 2012 to 2013 tax return to HMRC, you need to do it online and pay the tax you owe by the end of January. With all the help and advice available, there's no excuse not to," she added.

Although genuinely unforeseen events can make it difficult to send out tax forms, the death of a goldfish is not one of them, concluded the expert.

All of the people included in this list received a £100 fine for late payment and failed in their appeals.

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