Ann Baldwin – Clutching at straws for excuses

If you missed 31 January deadline for any tax returns and cannot use serious illness, death, fire, flood or theft as an excuse, what plausible story might you present to the Inland Revenue to save being charged penalties? Here’s a selection of ideas:

Hector who? I’m dyslexic and I’m still reading the notes.

I thought you were going to collect it. I must have put it in my last quarter’s VAT return. Please contact Customs and Excise.

I was watching X-Files, when a white beam of light shone into my house and my return was drawn up into a spacecraft and taken away. I’ve been abroad supporting Bill Clinton.

I’ve contributed my tax return to the Millennium project as an example of late ’90s bureaucracy. The kids used it to make a kite and now it’s caught in the tail of a Concorde.

I left it in the back pocket of my jeans, which have just been washed. I’ll send it to you as soon as it dries out.

I’ve been too worried about Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons to deal with my personal affairs.

I did send it but someone must have shot my carrier pigeon. I’ve been away on a time management course.

I’ve been delayed because Elton John wanted me to review his cash flow.

My return went into the photocopier but never came out again.

It fell off the shelf into the ratatouille and my mother-in-law ate it.

I’ve got it, but by mistake it’s been in the bottom of the parrot’s cage for a week. Do you still want it?

I’m so concerned about all the stress the Inland Revenue staff are under, that I did not want to further burden you with my return. We’ve been in merger talks for months and if I take my eye off the ball, I’ll end up with a smaller office.

An Inland Revenue officer started to explain the form to me and I went into a coma for a month. My friend was beating my bare bottom with it, when it shredded.

No doubt the real reasons are much more bizarre.

Ann Baldwin, FCA, is a management trainer and speaker.

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