As the 31 January tax return deadline looms, some people's circumstances will mean they'll genuinely struggle to file their self-assessment on time. But others will report much stranger setbacks, as HMRC's list of the worst excuses for late submissions shows.
The self-assessment deadline for tax returns covering income for the 2018-19 tax year is midnight on 31 January; submitting just a day late could result in a £100 fine.
One taxpayer - rather like a child who hasn't done their homework - tried to counter the fine by claiming their dog had eaten the post. They even claimed this wasn't the first time the pooch had pounced on the post.
And like most teachers, HMRC didn't accept the excuse, along with many others released ahead of this year's upcoming deadline.
Here, we reveal some of those other terrible reasons for filing late, and what to do if you really can't meet the tax return deadline.
Over the past decade, HMRC received some particularly bad excuses for missing the tax return deadline. In reverse order of strangeness:
In case you were wondering, HMRC didn't accept any of these excuses.
HMRC must receive your online tax return by midnight on 31 January. If you miss the deadline, you could automatically be charged £100 - even if you're just a day late.
The penalties can increase, the later you are. The charges are outlined below:
If you miss the 31 January deadline for submitting your return, you'll also miss the tax payment deadline - it's also 31 January.
Late payment fines will be charged in addition to what you owe for submitting late.
You'll be charged interest (currently 3.25%) from 31 January. If you still haven't paid after 30 days, you'll be charged an extra 5% of the tax due.
After six months there will be a further 5% charge, and then after 12 months there's an additional 5% charge.
Some people do, of course, have genuine reasons for missing the tax return deadline.
If this is the case, you can appeal against HMRC's fines, as long as you have a 'reasonable excuse'.
HMRC has said it will consider cancelling late penalties if any of the following interfered with the filing process:
You can also find a list of excuses that definitely won't be accepted, such as your payment failing because you didn't have enough money, or you found HMRC's system too difficult to use.
Some people may be able to offset some work-related expenses to reduce their tax bill - but some are more work-related than others.
HMRC has seen many questionable expenses claims over the past 10 years, with the most dubious being:
These were also all rejected by HMRC.
The expenses system is in place to make sure people aren't penalised for investing in things such as their business or a property they let.
Instead, allowable expenses provide a way for the money you spend to reduce your tax bill.
This works by taking your expenses away from your annual profit, meaning you're taxed on a reduced portion of your income.
If you use business premises, you can claim the costs of heating, lighting and general maintenance; those who work from home can claim a proportion of these costs.
It's also possible to claim for things such as computers and other equipment necessary for your work - like stationery.
Landlords can generally claim the expenses of running and maintaining their property, including things such as buildings insurance, cleaning fees for communal areas and letting agents fees.
You can tot up your tax bill, get tips on how to make savings and submit your return direct to HMRC with Which?.