If you're self-employed, then there are two dates each year that hold a particular horror: the 31 July and 31 January.
Both strike fear into your heart, because both come with an enormous bill attached. But January 31 is a real horror show because it comes along with the need to file a tax return.
We have been promised that the clever boffins at HMRC are doing away with this, and that as the years go by they'll perfect their systems so that we no longer have to do any paperwork. Apparently they'll delve into your accounts and work out what you have been paid, and the tax outstanding, without you having to lift a finger.
In the interim, we are left desperately scrabbling around for receipts as midnight approaches, wondering why we couldn't get our act together in the 10 months since the tax year ended.
Unsurprisingly each year several thousand people miss the deadline. But while most take it on the chin, a fair few will get in touch with HMRC and concoct a brilliant excuse as to why their tax return is late: and why they should be let off with a slap on the wrist.
The taxman has compiled a list of the worst excuses it has received.
It's worth knowing that if you miss the deadline for a legitimate reason you can appeal as long as your excuse is 'reasonable'.
Things that are likely to fall into this category include your partner dying shortly before the deadline, an unexpected stay in hospital, a computer failure when you were preparing your return, or issues with the HMRC systems that meant you couldn't submit your return.
It's safe to say, however, that it's far easier just to pick a date nice and early in the year - perhaps some time in the next six months - and get it all out of the way just in case.
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