Hamburger icon

Menu

  • Business insurance

    Business insurance covers

  • Support
  • Claims
  • Manage your policy
Telephone iconCall Us0333 0146 683
Our opening hours
Chevron left icon
Knowledge centre

'My hamster ate my post!' – HMRC's 10 most ridiculous tax return excuses and expense claims

3-minute read

'My hamster ate my post!' – HMRC's 10 most ridiculous tax return excuses and expense claims
Sam Bromley

Sam Bromley

22 January 2020

Facebook iconTwitter iconLinkedIn icon

HMRC has released its round up of the most ridiculous tax return excuses and failed expense claims from the last decade.

From old favourites to surprisingly creative defences, here are HMRC’s top 10 – including the person who tried to claim for more than £1000 worth of sausage and chips.

  • Our tax and Self Assessment resource: top tips, articles, and guides
  • How to fill in and file your tax return
  • Payment on account: what is it and how to pay
  • How do I change my Self Assessment return after filing?

Completing your Self Assessment and paying your bill by the tax return deadline can be challenging. But with penalties for filing late, it’s important to follow the rules. With that in mind, we’re not surprised that HMRC objected to these outlandish defences.

My mother-in-law put a curse on me

Who ya gonna call? HMRC’s top tax return excuse is decidedly supernatural.

One taxpayer said the reason they weren’t able to file their tax return on time is because they were cursed by their mother-in-law, who’s a witch.

But according to Thought Catalog “...most people who have been cursed don’t even know it” – which could be the reason HMRC was able to see through this excuse.

While HMRC says it’ll be lenient to those who genuinely can’t file on time, the excuse must be real and the taxpayer might be asked for evidence.

HMRC’s top failed expenses claim

When you picture a guard dog, which breed comes to mind? German Shepherd? Rottweiler? How about a Shih Tzu? One taxpayer tried to claim pet food for a Shih Tzu ‘guard dog’ as a tax-deductible expense.

FreeAgent says that HMRC has “been known to claim that guard dogs, especially those who guard a business run from home, are actually pet animals”. If HMRC doesn’t always allow expenses for traditional guard dogs, it’s unlikely this claim was ever going to get through.

Generally, all expenses need to be “wholly and exclusively” for business purposes. While it’s possible to claim care costs for working animals, there isn’t much guidance from HMRC on the tax treatment of different animals.

Read more about what you can claim as self-employed tax deductible expenses.

The top 10 worst tax return excuses and failed expense claims

Without further ado, here are the decade’s most ridiculous expenses claims and late tax return excuses (in reverse order):

  • caravan rental for the Easter weekend
  • I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a post box or get an internet signal
  • my dog ate the post… again
  • claiming £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days
  • my hamster ate my post
  • I’ve been cruising around the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land
  • a music subscription so I can listen to music while I work
  • pet food for a Shih Tzu ‘guard dog’
  • a DJ was too busy with a party lifestyle – spinning the decks… in a bowls club
  • my mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me

There are penalties for filing late – but help is available

If you file late there’s an initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if there’s no tax to pay or if the tax due is paid on time. This can increase the later you leave it – read more about late penalties and reasonable excuses.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC director general of customer services, said: “We always offer help to those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time. It is unfair to the majority of honest taxpayers when others make bogus claims.

“If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now – the earlier we’re contacted, the more we can help.”

Our top 10 favourite excuses

We’ve made a short video that runs down our own top 10 favourite excuses for late tax returns over the years. From yacht fires to arguing siblings, which one's your favourite?

Stuck with your return? Check out our tax and Self Assessment resource

While the excuses here didn’t fly with HMRC, we know that Self Assessment can be tricky. That’s why we’ve created a tax and Self Assessment resource to help see you through the process, with top tips, articles, and guides.

What's the Self Assessment process like for you? Let us know in the comments below.

Is your business insured?

We have 600,000 UK policies plus a 9/10 satisfaction score. Why not take a look at our expert business insurance options - including public liability insurance and professional indemnity - and run a quick quote to get started?

Start your quote

Find this article useful? Spread the word.

Facebook icon
Share
Twitter icon
Tweet
LinkedIn icon
Post

People also liked

Keep up to date with Simply Business. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and follow us on social media.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Facebook icon

Follow us on Facebook

Twitter icon

Follow us on Twitter

YouTube icon

Subscribe to our videos on YouTube

LinkedIn icon

Follow us on LinkedIn

Address

6th Floor99 Gresham StreetLondonEC2V 7NG

Sol House29 St Katherine's StreetNorthamptonNN1 2QZ

© Copyright 2020 Simply Business. All Rights Reserved. Simply Business is a trading name of Xbridge Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Financial Services Registration No: 313348). Xbridge Limited (No: 3967717) has its registered office at 6th Floor, 99 Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7NG.