Winning excuses

Volcanic eruptions, back pain, and cow attacks: Why some Brits don’t pay their taxes

January 3, 2014
January 3, 2014

Filing taxes in the UK is considerably easier than in the US. In fact, only around a fifth of British adults are required to file their own personal taxes; most people have taxes automatically deducted from their paychecks.

And those who need to fill out their own forms are given plenty of time. Taxes for the fiscal year ending in April 2013 are only due at the end of this month. Still, meeting the deadline is a struggle for some. The British tax authority recently published a list of some of the 10 most “bizarre, exotic and flimsy excuses” it has received from tardy taxpayers after it hit them with a £100 ($165) late-filing penalty in previous years.

With less than a month to go to the latest deadline, officials want to make it clear that they won’t abide excuses that taxpayers can’t pay on time because they were transfixed by volcanoes, paralyzed by back pain, or suffered mysterious accidents with farm animals. The list in full:

  1. My pet goldfish died (self-employed builder);
  2. I had a run-in with a cow (Midlands farmer);
  3. After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else (London woman);
  4. My wife won’t give me my mail (self-employed trader);
  5. My husband told me the deadline was 31 March, and I believed him (Leicester hairdresser);
  6. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play (Coventry writer);
  7. My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is (a working taxi driver);
  8. I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land (South East man);
  9. Our business doesn’t really do anything (Kent financial services firm); and
  10. I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns (London accountant).

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