A BUILDER who blamed the death of a goldfish for his tardiness is among the worst excuses for late tax returns revealed by HM Revenue and Customs.

A farmer who had a “run-in with a cow” also makes the list put together by HMRC with the January 31 tax return deadline just around the corner.

The following bizarre, exotic and flimsy excuses have all been used by late taxpayers:

  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 March 31, 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)
  10. I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns (London accountant)


All of these people and businesses received a £100 penalty from HMRC for filing late. They appealed against the decision using these excuses, but were unsuccessful.

For general help and advice on completing a return, visit www.hmrc.gov.uk/sa or call the Self Assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310 (open 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, and from 8am to 4pm on Saturdays).