Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.
A bit like being late for your own funeral, getting your tax return in on time is something that’s not really negotiable. At least, you’d think so.
With only three months to go to the deadline - for tax returns we mean, not your final demise - there’s plenty of time to get that onerous task in hand. Even so, while we can’t predict whether any of us will shuffle off our mortal coil in the coming year, we can see the future with absolute clarity - and anticipate a mad rush in the weeks leading up to 31 January 2016.
Why should that happen? Well, when it comes to excuses - sorry - reasons for that inevitable scramble to beat the deadline in some cases - take it from us, we’ve heard them all before.
Our friends at HMRC have compiled a list of the most bizarre excuses. It’s so funny, we wondered why they don’t just put a smiley face on the end of the letter explaining why your appeal failed and you’re still being fined for your late return.
We’re less about problems and more about solutions, so here are our mitigation to some of those most unusual of alleged circumstances.
“Just like back in school days, the dog ate my tax return.” Well, lucky you for having such a long-lived pet, but we’ve a number of animal behaviourists amongst our clients who could train your furry friend to alter their diet to something less financially damaging. Then again, since you claim your dog has been around since your school days, you might want to check with our client zoologist - who thinks it might actually be a tortoise with a waggly tail.
“I was trying to file online but I was in a remote area and couldn’t get a wifi signal.” The bottom line is if you’re leaving it until you’re away from your network before filing, maybe it’s not a computer expert but a time management one you need.
“I fell in with the wrong crowd” is a popular excuse, apparently. Quite simply, if you’ve fallen in with us - you haven’t.
“I’ve been on a round the world trip.” Any of the bespoke travel agents and corporate travel organisers we work with will help arrange for you to stay somewhere that’s reliably connected to the internet, so you can hit the send button wherever you are on the globe.
Last year, according to HMRC, they actually heard this old one: “I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs.” Well, we’ve already mentioned our animal husbandry clients, so no matter what livestock issues you face, we could probably point you to a solution, while taking care of your tax affairs.
“I asked a colleague to photocopy my tax return, but they didn’t bring it back.” Good Idea to take a copy of your return (we do that of course) but, if you’re still using hard copy for your affairs, you could probably use an introduction to an office supply specialist. We’d also recommend checking the scanner tray of the photocopier - that’s usually where to start looking for misplaced originals.
“I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park.” We read this, but wondered why it’s an excuse. HMRC will give some discretion for reasonable excuses - such as an unexpected hospitalisation - but your usual living circumstances probably won’t cut it. ( Plus another down side is you’ll probably also get fined for overstaying your welcome in the supermarket car park - but at least living there, you’ll be handy for the shops.)
“It’s in the post.” No, it isn’t. If you’ve not posted your return far enough ahead of the deadline to reach HMRC in time, you really need to get it there by more reliable means - perhaps using one of the courier firms on our client list; or take yourself to the local office in a taxi (we represent a few drivers) or make it a staff outing and take a whole coach load along (we act for a number of coach operators too). Alternatively, get your information to us in good time and we’ll take it from there … filing on line.
Finally, the excuse that amused us most was: “my accountants file my return.” Well, if that’s us, that’s no excuse, because you’ve no problem … as long as you provide us with the information we need to complete your return. That’s why, as the deadline approaches, we’ll be gently reminding you, every hour, on the hour, to get your details to us.
It’s not easy doing your tax return, but it’s much easier than dreaming up an original excuse. With late penalties starting at £100 and increasing to an additional £10 per day after 3 months - it’s also cheaper. We can’t think of an excuse not to.