Date posted: 12/05/2017 2 min read

The strangest excuses for not paying your tax on time

Each year people fail to pay their tax on time. We asked the Australian Tax Office and New Zealand’s Inland Revenue for some of the strangest excuses they have received.

In brief

  • Have you ever found yourself buried in receipts in preparation to lodge your tax return and ended up avoiding the task ahead altogether?
  • Both The Australian Tax Office and the Inland Revenue have detailed guidelines on their websites about the lodgement of tax returns and penalties incurred if you are late.
  • If you have delayed lodging your tax return talk to an tax agent who can assist in putting together a payment plan if you have incurred a late payment penalty.

The list below reflects the most commonly used excuses for failing to lodge a tax return, provided to the Australian Tax Office and New Zealand's Inland Revenue, from latecomers.

  1. I need an extension because I am going to a wedding.
  2. My mailbox is full of grass and weeds so I didn’t receive any ATO correspondence or lodgement reminder letters.
  3. Snails eat our mail, so your lodgement demand letter must have been eaten.
  4. My puppy got into the letter box and ate it.
  5. The parrot ate the reminder letter.
  6.  I can’t do it because I am helping someone else do theirs.
  7.  The mailman stole it.
  8. My ex-husband steals my mail.
  9. I just got divorced and my ex has all the files and our computer.
  10. I had a fight with my wife and she works for my tax agent so I couldn’t meet with him.
  11. I couldn’t lodge my 2003 tax return because I was suffering from pre-trauma from a serious car accident I had in 2007.
  12. I broke my wrist six months ago and it has been a long road to recovery.
  13.  I didn’t know the due date (from an employer for the past 20 years).
  14. My client can’t lodge because she is currently at the North Pole.

Running late?

If you are unsure about your tax obligations or the timing of them, the Australian Tax Office and Inland Revenue have comprehensive guidance on their websites. Not paying on time could mean you incur a late payment penalty.

The ATO and Inland Revenue have mechanisms to facilitate late payment without incurring a penalty, so talk to them up front if you have an issue with payment. Tax agents can advise and assist you on how to confirm a payment schedule for your circumstances.