The cut off point for tax returns is January 31 and anyone who has not yet sent one in had better register to do it online fast to avoid an initial £100 fine.
With 10.9m people expected to fill in a self-assessment form for 2012-13, staff at HM Revenue and Customs accept that some might have a valid reasons for late payment but it has published its top 10 “bizarre, exotic and flimsy” excuses which were unsuccessfully used to appeal against fines.
1. Self-employed builder: “My pet goldfish died.”
2. Midlands farmer: “I had a run-in with a cow.”
3. London woman: “After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.”
4. Self-employed trader: “My wife won’t give me my mail.”
5. Hairdresser: “My husband told me the deadline was 31 March, and I believed him.”
6. Writer: “I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.”
7. Working taxi driver: “My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is.”
8. South east man: “I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land.”
9. Financial services firm: “Our business doesn’t really do anything.”
10. Accountant: “I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns.”
Ruth Owen, HMRC’s director general of personal tax, 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.”
To register for HMRC Online Services visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/online and follow on-screen instructions. Penalties for late self-assessment returns start at £100, after three months they go to £10 a day to a £900 maximum, at six months there is an additional penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater, and a similar sanction awaits after 12 months.
For advice visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/sa or call 0300 200 3310 (open 8am-8pm, Monday-Friday and from 8am-4pm Saturdays).