10 worst self-assessment excuses (and how to avoid making them)

“The dog ate my homework” – a time-honoured excuse that only an errant schoolchild would attempt… or so we thought. It turns out there are fully-grown, supposedly responsible adults out there who attempt similar excuses each time January 31st – the deadline for your self-assessment forms – rolls around. 
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Each year, HMRC shows that tax-folk have a sense of humour after all, by publishing some of the excuses they’ve received from people who missed the deadline. Here are 10 of our favourites, followed by a few tips on how to get yourself sorted before you have to start making excuses yourself.

See also… 

1. Blame it on the Tax Rat… 


2. Sucks to have a sister…


3. Damn those human accountants! 


(Hint: online accountants don’t get ill.)

4. No, we can’t quite believe this one either… 


5. 1st world problems…


6. End of days…


7. Nieces never learn


8. This is so not my fault… 


9. Dear HMRC, you know how it is… 


10. Heaven help me… 


Unsurprisingly, all of these excuses – each one an entirely genuine attempt – failed to pass muster with HMRC. Each of them will have received a minimum £100 fine, with added charges levied the longer the claimant failed to file their self-assessment.

Tips for getting your self-assessment in on time 

Naturally, we at My Accountant Friend, do our utmost to get our clients’ self-assessments to HMRC well before the deadline. The fact that our software allows you to submit the forms at the click of a button helps matters hugely, but there are a few things we need to get in order before we can get you ship shape and ready to go. Here are our top tips.

  1. Remember that you’re filing for the tax year 2015/16, so we’re looking at the period April 6th, 2015, to April 5th, 2016.
  2. Your accountant will need details of any employment Income – your P60, P45 and/or P11D.
  3. Prepare details on you UK property income. Remember there are different tax rules for residential properties and furnished holiday lets and the costs you can claim to reduce your tax bill.
  4. Tell your accountant about any UK Bank and Building Society interest you may have accrued during that period.
  5. If you have any dividend income – from limited company and investments – your accountant needs to know about it. If you’re a My Accountant Friend customer, though, all of this will already be accounted for in your dashboard. One of the perks of having an online accountant!
  6. Report any personal pension payments, gift aid donations, student loan details, child benefit details, sole trader income, foreign income or gains. Again, My Accountant Friend clients will have all of these details already stored.
  7. Talk to your accountant about the latest rules around expenses you can deduct for property income, i.e, wear and tear allowance and sole trader income – mileage, travel and accommodation.
  8. It might sound obvious, but double check your figures and make sure everything is included. If not, HMRC might reject your return and issue a penalty. As accountants, it’s our job to do this, too, but double and triple checking everything never hurt.
  9. Don’t leave it until January 31st, 2017!  385,000 people did this last year. If you miss the midnight cut off the penalty is £100 even if there is no tax due. The penalty increases if your return isn’t filed within three months of the filing deadline.

Of course, if you’re in need of a helping hand, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re here and happy to help.