'˜I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for 5 years' - worst late tax return excuses revealed

We all used the old '˜dog ate my homework' excuse while at school but it seems that old habits die hard for some people.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have revealed the ten worst excuses for missing the January 31 Self Assessment deadline for 2013/14 and yep, you’ve guessed it, my dog ate my tax return is on the list.

But my personal favourite has to be ‘I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for five years’.

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The excuses were all used in unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties for late returns.

Here’s the list in full

1) My tax papers were left in the shed and the rat ate them.

2) I’m not a paperwork-orientated person - I always relied on my sister to complete my returns but we have now fallen out.

3) My accountant has been ill.

4) My dog ate my tax return.

5) I will be abroad on deadline day with no internet access so will be unable to file.

6) My laptop broke, so did my washing machine.

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7) My niece had moved in - she made the house so untidy I could not find my log-in details to complete my return online.

8) My husband ran over my laptop.

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9) I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for five years.

10) I had a cold which took a long time to go.

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Personal Tax said: “Untidy family members and hungry pets are very unlikely to be accepted as a legitimate excuse for completing your tax return late.

“We understand that life can be unpredictable and for those customers who have a genuine excuse for missing the January 31 deadline, such as the flooding, help is at hand. My advice would be to contact us through our helplines or online, as soon as possible.

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“But for those who are trying to play the system, while the rest of us do the right thing, the message is clear: submit your tax return online by January 31 or face a fine. We’re here to help people in genuine distress, but not to act as a free lender to people who can’t meet their responsibilities to pay their tax.”