Sorry sir, but the dog ate my homework.

We all remember that classic schoolboy/girl excuse, and it would appear that the spirit of such unconvincing backstops lives on through the adult years.

With the deadline fast approaching for submitting your tax return, HMRC has published a list of the weird and wonderful excuses and expense claims it been receiving.

From witches curses through to expense claims for woolly underwear and home cinemas systems, here are some of the strangest from the past year:

  • My mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me
  • I’m too short to reach the post box
  • I was just too busy – my first maid left, my second maid stole from me, and my third maid was very slow to learn
  • Our junior member of staff registered our client in Self Assessment by mistake because they were not wearing their glasses
  • My boiler had broken and my fingers were too cold to type

As well as unbelievable excuses, every year HMRC also receives some rather dubious expenses claims. Some of the most questionable include:

  • A carpenter claiming £900 for a 55-inch TV and sound bar to help him price his jobs
  • £40 on extra woolly underwear, for five years
  • £756 for my pet dog insurance
  • A music subscription, so I can listen to music while I work
  • A family holiday to Nigeria

All these excuses and expenses, unsurprisingly, were unsuccessful.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC director general of customer services, said: “We want to make it as simple as possible for our customers to do their tax returns and the majority make the effort to do theirs right and on time. But each year we still come across some poor excuses and expenses which range from problems with maids to televisions.

“Help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time but it’s unfair to the majority of honest taxpayers when others make bogus claims.”