It’s that hilarious time of year again when HMRC reveal their best excuses for not filing your tax return on time and also the reasons why those ludicrous expense claims should be classed for business purposes. This is always a favourite on the HMRC content calendar and this year does not disappoint!

If you’ve ever tried to complete your self-assessment tax return without the help of a trusted expert accountancy advisor, the process can be a little daunting. With so many rules and regulations to be aware of, understand and implement it is no wonder some people get their tax returns wrong. Others can just be known as complete chancers with some of the best expense claims that HMRC have revealed from the past decade.


Here’s some of our favourites at Insight Finance Solutions:


The Shih Zhu Guard Dog

hmrc best tax excuses gyard dog




When you think about a guard dog providing security for a business what do you picture? A German Shepherd? A Rottweiler? Well how about a Shih Tzu as a guard dog? Could you claim the dog’s food as a business expense? That’s what one plucky business owner tried to claim on their tax return.


It is widely known that any form of guard ‘dog’, especially dogs guarding a business run from home are usually a pet and part of a family too. So if HMRC are not going to let you claim for any guard dog, they’re certainly not going to fall for the Shih Zhu scaring away the would-be burglars. All expenses need to be “wholly and exclusively” for business purposes.


While you are able to claim costs for the care of working animals, there isn’t much guidance from HMRC on the tax treatment of different animals. Not surprisingly, this expense for the Shih Zhu personal protection was rejected by HMRC.


£1,000 Worth of Sausage and Chips


HMRC worst tax expense excuses sausage and chips


One chancer tried to claim £4.50 worth of sausage and chips – for 250 days! While HMRC guidelines state that you’re allowed to claim a meal as subsistence – it has to be outside of your normal working routine. So, if you’re attending the same workplace every day like this claimant was, it’s unlikely that you can claim any subsistence as an allowable expense. That’s a lot of sausage and chips to put through as “wholly and exclusively” for business purposes.


Terrible Tax Return Excuses


We know it’s not the easiest of tasks for many putting together their tax returns and we know it can leave some wanting to bury their heads in the sand. The rules state that you must complete your self assessment tax return in paper by 31st October or digitally by 31st January. There are late submission fines for those who do not get their return in on time – even if you have no tax to pay. Many people try and get away with not paying the fine with some imaginative and hilarious excuses. Here are some of our favourites:


  1. I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy. For five years!
  2. My husband told me the deadline was 31st March.
  3. My dog ate all of the tax returns and all of the reminder letters.
  4. My wife helps me with my tax return but she had a headache for 10 days.
  5. A wasp in my car caused me to have an accident and my tax return was destroyed.
  6. My tax return was on my yacht, which caught fire.


The best excuse for not filing your tax return ever?



Over the last decade, HMRC have deemed the following to be the very best excuse for not filing a tax return on time;


“I couldn’t complete my tax return because my mother-in-law is a witch and she put a curse on me.”


While HMRC will be lenient with genuine excuses and reasons for not completing your tax return on time, they do ask for evidence to back up your reason for the late return. I wonder what this person provided as evidence of their curse?!


Remember – tax does not have to be taxing. There is no need to wait until the panic of January to get organised with your tax returns. You get to work in a more proactive way month by month when you become a client of Insight Finance Solutions. We help pass on knowledge to business owners at every stage of their business journey to make business finances stress free.


If you’d like to arrange a chat about your business finances and how we can help you, get in touch.




Helen Crapper is the founder of Insight Finance Solutions. Helen and the team specialise in accountancy advice at every stage of business and help make finances stress free for clients. Helen is also a coach and uses money mindset coaching to help business people remove their personal blocks and limiting beliefs to grow as people while growing their businesses.

To have a chat about your business finances and how Insight Finance Solutions can help you, get in touch.