QUIRKY WORLD ... From messy houses to argumentative spouses, the taxman’s top 10 excuses

ENGLAND: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has revealed the worst excuses it has heard over the past year from people filing late tax returns — including hungry animals devouring tax forms.

The “worst tax return excuses” list, which was released ahead of the deadline for filing tax returns online at the end of January, contains claims which were used in unsuccessful appeals against penalties imposed for late returns, HMRC said.

They ranged from a husband running over a laptop to someone claiming that a rat chomped its way through their tax papers while they were being kept in a shed.

Here is the list of failed excuses for late returns released by HMRC:

My tax papers were in the shed and the rat ate them.

I’m not a paperwork-orientated person — I always relied on my sister to complete my returns but we have now fallen out.

My accountant was ill.

My dog ate my tax return.

I will be abroad on deadline day with no internet access so will be unable to file.

My laptop broke, so did my washing machine.

My niece had moved in — she made the house so untidy I could not find my log-in details to complete my return online.

My husband ran over my laptop.

I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for five years.

I had a cold which took a long time to go.

Car thieves in wrong gear

USA: Pittsburgh police are searching for two would-be car-jackers who apparently cannot drive a manual transmission car.

Officers have been looking for the pair since one of them tapped on a 28-year-old driver’s window with a gun. The two ordered the man out of his car and demanded money. When the victim said he had none, they demanded his phone and car keys.

Police said when the victim told the suspects the car had a manual transmission they decided they did not want it and ran away.

School bans cakes

England: A primary school has banned children from taking birthday cakes into school.

Norbreck Primary Academy in Blackpool, Lancashire, announced the decision via an online newsletter citing that some children could be allergic to ingredients and that it was “too much to expect teachers to read ingredient lists” on a busy day.

Headteacher Karen McCarter said she hated to be a “kill-joy” but said that any cakes brought into class would be sent home uneaten.

Swat Cat is back on duty

USA: Boston Police Department’s Swat team has been reunited with its beloved, unofficial mascot.

Swat Cat — a female stray with white, black, and light orange fur — first started prowling around in 2013, looking for belly rubs and free meals, but she disappeared in late November.

Officers feared the worst and even put out an all-points bulletin, posting a shot on Facebook of Swat Cat lounging on the bonnet of an armoured vehicle.

But now the department has posted on its website that Swat Cat has returned to the unit’s home base in the city’s Roxbury neighbourhood.

The department said officers are “just happy that she was safe all this time”.

Cold war heritage

England: A DIY nuclear bunker built in a back garden during the Cold War has been given protected status.

The one-storey bunker in Taverham, Norfolk, is constructed mainly of second-hand materials such as reinforced concrete, steel, and brick, but also features a spa and carpets.

The shelter was built by Noel Barrett in private woodland in his back garden in 1982, at the height of the Cold War. It has been given Grade II listed status due to its historic importance as a reminder of the fear and anxiety the Cold War caused.


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