Aliens, rabbits and spilt coffee are among the most unbelievable excuses for late tax returns and expenses given to HM Revenue & Customs recently.

HMRC regularly releases a list of the bizarre excuses it's seen for not completing tax returns on time – and has published the latest set as this year's 31 January self-assessment deadline looms.

This year's best worst excuses are:

  • "I couldn't file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won't let me in the house."
  • "I've been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play."
  • "My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can't go upstairs to retrieve it."
  • "My business doesn't really do anything."
  • "I spilt coffee on it."

HMRC also released a list of questionable items that applicants have tried to expense:

  • "A three-piece suite for my partner to sit on when I'm doing my accounts."
  • "Birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub."
  • "Vet fees for a rabbit."
  • "Hotel room service – for candles and prosecco."
  • "£4.50 for sausage-and-chips meal expenses for 250 days."

All of the excuses and expenses above were refused by HMRC.

For full info on how to file your tax return this year – and what happens if you miss the deadline – see our self-assessment warning.

'Absurd expense claims'

Angela MacDonald, HMRC director general of customer services, said: "Each year we're making it easier and more intuitive for our customers to complete their tax return, but each year we still come across some questionable excuses, whether that's blaming a busy touring schedule or seeing aliens. However, help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time.

"We also receive absurd expense claims from vet fees for a rabbit to room service at a hotel. It is unfair to make honest taxpayers pick up the bill for other people's spurious claims, so HMRC will only accept sincere claims such as legitimate expenses for a job.

"If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now – the earlier we're contacted, the more help we can offer."

Have your say