'Dog ate my form' is one of bizarre excuses taxman reveals for late tax returns

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A tax return being engulfed in a yacht fire is among the most bizarre excuses recently seen by the taxman for customers not getting in their returns on time.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said it receives unusual excuses each year for self-assessment returns being late.

As well as a customer claiming their return had been left on a yacht which caught fire, HMRC also listed other unusual excuses used in unsuccessful appeals against its penalties for late returns.

They included a dog eating a tax return and all the reminders, a child scribbling on someone's tax return, and a wasp causing a car accident which resulted in a tax return inside the car being destroyed.

The deadline for sending 2015-16 self-assessment tax returns online to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is January 31 2017. 

Penalties for late tax returns include an initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time.

Ruth Owen, HMRC director general of customer services, said: "It's easy to see that some excuses for not completing a tax return on time can be more questionable than others. Luckily, it's only a small minority who chance their arm.

"But there will always be help and support available for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time. If you think you might miss the January 31 deadline, get in touch with us now - the earlier we're contacted, the better."

HMRC said it will treat those with genuine excuses leniently and focus its penalties on those who persistently fail to complete their tax returns and deliberate tax evaders.

Here is HMRC's list of the most unusual excuses for not getting in a self-assessment return on time: 

1. My tax return was on my yacht, which caught fire.

2. A wasp in my car caused me to have an accident and my tax return, which was inside, was destroyed.

3. My wife helps me with my tax return, but she had a headache for 10 days.

4. My dog ate my tax return - and all of the reminders.

5. I could not complete my tax return, because my husband left me and took our accountant with him. I am currently trying to find a new accountant.

6. My child scribbled all over the tax return, so I was not able to send it back.

7. I work for myself, but a colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and lost it.

8. My husband told me the deadline was the March 31.

9. My internet connection failed.

10. The postman does not deliver to my house.