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Excuses for late tax documents

As a kid, “the dog ate my homework” is one of the most common, or at least comical, excuses one might give their teacher for not turning in their homework on time. 

We face deadlines throughout our entire lives. Even before you were born, there was a “due date” to enter the world. If you were late, you might still hear complaints from your mother about how your tardiness affected her. 

Dog eating paperwork

Yet busy lives can make it difficult to meet every deadline. Some deadlines can be pushed (there are “belated birthday” cards after all). Some deadlines – tax deadlines – are set in stone. 

The IRS is not a lenient organization. They’re not a forgiving friend who laughs off your late arrival to the coffee shop. And unless you are your accountant’s only client (you likely aren’t), you need to provide necessary tax documents well before those firm deadlines.

October 15 was the personal tax return deadline for those who filed for an extension. In honor of this, we’re sharing some of the most bizarre excuses for providing late tax documents and information, and for filing late returns in the first place. Since Numberwise clients are always prompt when it comes to taxes, we had to search the interwebs for these! 😉

Excuses for late tax documents / filing late

  • My pet goldfish died. Poor person had to flush their friend and couldn’t get their tax stuff done in time.
  • I had a run-in with a cow. In fairness, he was a farmer. I hope the cow was okay.
  • After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. I have no words for this one.
  • My wife won’t give me my mail. I wonder what kind of mail he was getting to explain this one.
  • My husband told me the deadline was a different date, and I believed him. I’m sensing a lot of spousal blame going on here.
  • I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play. Sounds like a show you don’t want to miss!
  • My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax stuff is. Can you believe this? How did it get up there in the first place?
  • I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up my mail when I’m on dry land. I wonder if the yacht’s name is “Tax Evader”.
  • Our business doesn’t really do anything.  Um, what? Sounds like a tax shelter to me.
  • I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns to deal with my own. We understand tax season for accountants, but seriously?
  • The Post Office removed our local postbox so I had nowhere to post it. There is only one postbox in the entire city?!
  • My dog had an accident on my documents and I was too embarrassed to take them to the accountant. Yikes – I would be too!

Wondering if there are valid excuses for being late on your tax filing? It may be possible to avoid or reduce penalties from the IRS if it falls on a short list of reasons. Examples of potentially valid reasons for late filing include serious issues, like a fire or natural disaster. Pet accidents, being busy, or simply forgetting, do not make the list. 

Have you ever filed your taxes late? We’d love to hear your excuse – or um, reason – in the comments section below.

More tax topics from Numberwise:

5 common tax myths debunked

How is cryptocurrency taxed?

Source: The Guardian and IRS.gov

About the Author

Stephanie Lorntzen

Stephanie Lorntzen

Stephanie Lorntzen is a CPA who has worked for both large accounting firms and small businesses. Her background is in auditing, financial analysis, and financial reporting. For Numberwise, she helps business owners by answering all their questions about where their money is going.
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