Belfast Telegraph

Prize for funniest tax excuse is a £100 fine...

With the January 31 tax return deadline just around the corner, we bring you the 10 oddest excuses for sending in a late return:

From my pet goldfish died to my wife refuses to give me my mail, these bizarre excuses have all been used by tardy taxpayers... And all of them received a £100 penalty for filing late.

The penalties for late self-assessment returns include an initial fine of £100, which applies even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time.

After three months, an additional daily penalty of £10, up to a maximum of £900, applies.

After six months, the amount goes up a further 5%, or £300 charge, whichever is greater.

There are also additional penalties for paying late of 5% of the tax unpaid after 30 days, six months and a year.

HMRC's Director General of personal tax, Ruth Owen, said: "There will always be unforeseen events that mean a taxpayer could not file their tax return on time.

"However, your pet goldfish passing away isn't one of them.

"If you haven't yet sent your 2012/13 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."

10 oddest excuses for late tax returns:

* My pet goldfish died.

* I had a run-in with a cow.

* After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn't concentrate on anything else.

* My wife won't give me my mail.

* My husband told me the deadline was March 31, and I believed him.

* I've been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.

* My bad back means I can't go upstairs. That's where my tax return is.

* I've been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I'm on dry land.

* Our business doesn't really do anything.

* I've been too busy submitting my clients' tax returns.

Belfast Telegraph