If you pay your tax through the self assessment process, you know the deadline to submit your tax return and pay your tax bill is 31st January at 11.59pm. And every year a proportion of those taxpayers miss the deadline. And sometimes includes some, well, intriguing expense claims. To mark 31st January 2020 as being the end of a decade, HMRC compiled a list of their favourites.

If we ever needed proof that ‘there’s nowt as strange as folk’, here it is.

HMRC’s top ten failed claims

Cue ‘Top of the Pops’ countdown tune…

  1. In at number ten, we have a claim for the cost of an Easter weekend break in a caravan rental.


  1. Getting away from it all – “I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a post box or get an internet signal.”


  1. Literally, the dog ate it. As in, the dog ate the post “again.”


  1. Claiming 250 days of sausage and chips, at £4.50 a go, as ‘subsistence’.


  1. Literally, the hamster ate it.


  1. Bit of a first world problem for this taxpayer “I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land.”


  1. Staff wellbeing is important, even if the only staff member is you. But claiming a music subscription to listen while working isn’t tax deductible.


  1. Food for the guard dog – a Shih Tzu. Enough said.


  1. Understandably, a DJ cited the pressures of their massive party lifestyle. They mainly worked in a bowls club.


1.”My mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me.” Okay then.

It is really important to point out that none of these expenses claims were honoured and none of these excuses were considered valid by HMRC. No penalties were revoked.

Commenting on behalf of HMRC, their Director General of Customer Services, Angela MacDonald said: “Each year, we try to make it as easy and simple as possible for our customers to complete their tax returns and the majority make the effort to do theirs right and on time. But, we still come across some unusual excuses and expenses which range from problems with a mother-in-law to yachts set on fire. 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.”

How many people missed the deadline this year?

The numbers of people missing the self assessment tax return deadline for the 2018-19 tax year on 31st January 2020 is a record low. Only 8.18% of the 11.7million required to file missed the deadline this year. This is a great success, particularly for HMRC’s strategy to move the majority of their services online.

Interestingly, 3,003 people submitted their self assessment tax return on Christmas Day. Deadline day itself had 702,171 submissions. This peaked between 4.00 and 4.59pm with 56,969 filing during that hour alone. 26,562 scraped in by the seat of their pants in the final hour between 11.00 and 11.59pm.

Why did you miss the tax return deadline?

If you’re squirming in the discomfort of knowing that you missed the deadline, relax. Yes, you’ve missed the official cut off point and you will be issued with a £100 automatic penalty. But you can sort it out. HMRC have a list of ‘reasonable excuses’, which are nothing like those in the top ten. They  will talk you through how to sort it all out if you give them a call on 0300 200 3310.