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‘Witch mother-in-law put a curse on me’ among strangest late tax excuses

Witchcraft was one of the unbelievable reasons provided
Witchcraft was one of the unbelievable reasons provided

A witch’s curse, a postbox that was too tall and a slow-learning maid are just some of the most outlandish excuses HM Revenue and Customs have received from people who completed their tax returns too late in the past year.

As this year’s self assessment tax returns deadline looms, the taxman has released some of the strangest reasons provided by those who were unable to sort out what they owe in time.

They include someone who claimed they were unable to type as their boiler had broken down and their fingers were too cold and another who hoped the revelation their mother-in-law was a witch and had prevented them from filing their taxes with a curse would absolve them from blame.

HMRC revealed one especially tiny individual argued they were too short to reach their local post box.


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And one complainer said: “I was just too busy, my first maid left, my second maid stole from me and my third maid was very slow to learn”.

None of the excuses proved successful.

In addition to unusual excuses, every year HMRC also receives and dismisses a great deal of dubious expenses claims.

During the past year, chancers attempted to claim £40 for extra woolly underwear, a carpenter tried to claim £900 for a 55-inch TV and sound bar to help him price his hobs, and one person tried to claim on a music subscription – “so I can listen to music while I work”.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC director of general customer services, said: “We want to make it as simple as possible for our customers to do their tax returns and the majority make the effort to do theirs right and on time.

“But each year we still come across some poor excuses and expenses which range from problems with maids, to televisions.

“Help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time, but it’s unfair to the majority of honest taxpayers when others make bogus claims.

“If you think you might miss the January 31 deadline, get in touch with us now.

“The earlier we’re contacted, the more we can help.”

The deadline for all 2017-18 self assessment tax returns to HMRC, as well as paying any tax owed, is January 31.

The self assessment helpline can be called on 0300 200 3310.

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