Ridiculous reasons for missing the self-assessment deadline.

Words, hubbul

The 31st January is a significant date for every freelancer, contractor and self-employed worker in the UK for two reasons. One, because it is finally the end of arguably the most difficult month of the year. And two, because it marks the deadline for submitting your self-assessment tax return.

Regardless of whether you work as a sole trader or through your own limited company, you are expected to file a record of your earnings to HMRC.

Obviously, the majority of independent workers would rather spend time focusing on running their business. After all, organising invoices, collecting together a year’s worth of business expense receipts before paying the taxman is a hassle many of us could do without.

So inevitably, a number of the 10.39m self-assessment returns received by The Treasury last January were late. In fact, every year HMRC receives a number of imaginative excuses from self-employed workers as to why they couldn’t possibly have made the midnight deadline on the 31st January.

Here are a few of HMRC’s favourites, which needless to say were not accepted as reasonable excuses:

“I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house.”

“I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.”

“My business doesn’t really do anything.”

“I spilt coffee on it.”

“My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it.”

Despite their audacity, these excuses landed their owners a £100 fine from HMRC – which lists its reasonable excuses for missing the deadline here.


In addition to making sure you submit your self-assessment on time, it’s important you only claim allowable business expenses, which in no shape of form include the following:

“A three-piece suite for my partner to sit on when I’m doing my accounts.”

“Birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub.”

“Vet fees for a rabbit.”

“£4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days.”

“Hotel room service – for candles and prosecco.”

Again, no surprises that these expenses were also rejected by HMRC, which does provide a summary of allowable business expenses, here.


For anyone having trouble with their self-assessment, Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Director General of Customer Services, said:

“We’re making it easier and more intuitive for our customers to complete their tax return, but each year we still come across some questionable excuses, whether that’s blaming a busy touring schedule or seeing aliens. However, help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time.”

If you’re worried you might miss the 31st January deadline, you can sign up for an account on the Government website here for any help and advice.


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1 in 10 Brits plan to go self-employed in 2018.

Words, hubbul

With the number of people working for themselves in the UK reaching a record 4.88m last year, a recent poll has revealed that 11% of Brits have plans to start their own business in 2018. On scale, this accounts for 3.5m people – suggesting that this year could well be yet another record-breaking one for self-employment.

A further 8% of the 1000 or so surveyed by FreeAgent intend to strike out of their own by the end of 2019. And refreshingly, the main reasons for starting up a business are seemingly not financially related.

Almost half (44%) intend to start their own business for the freedom it brings, along with the opportunity to strike a better work life balance than the one perhaps experienced as an employee. This falls in line with previous research carried out by Qdos Contractor, which signalled that being able to work on their own terms was freelancers' biggest attraction to self-employment.

But of course, the work itself matters too. 43% of Brits hold aspirations to go solo because it will give them greater control over the type of work they can carry out. It comes as no surprise that being able to choose your clients and the projects you work on is a huge draw to freelancing and contracting. Employees on the other hand often find themselves feeling stagnant, under paid and above all else, under valued.

And it is the fear of not reaching one’s potential which drives 37% of people to want to work for themselves. Independent working is a liberating career choice, and one which allows individuals to get out what they put in.


When exploring gender attitudes to business ownership, women hold greater ambition to make their own way in their career, with 13% planning to go self-employed this year, compared to 9% of men.

The survey revealed that women are more driven to work for themselves so they can choose the kind of work they undertake, while it seems men are more motivated by the prospect of a better worklife balance.

Whether 1 in 10 Brits start a business in 2018 remains to be seen. So perhaps the number of people who would like to go it alone but without having a timeline for it, is more impressive. 49% of those surveyed are keen to break free from the shackles of employed life and start a business at some point in their career.

Brits aren’t naïve to challenges of running a business though – far from it in fact. The cost of starting up ranked as the number one concern to 35% of survey respondents, while 34% hold reservations about their ability to manage their company finances. 30% worry their lack of confidence will prove to be the biggest stumbling block as they set out alone in business.


While championing self-employment and small business ownership, FreeAgent CEO, Ed Molyneux also urged Brits thinking about starting a business not to walk into it blind.

“It’s so important for any new business owner to make sure they are fully prepared before they start up. One of the main reasons that new businesses fail is because they cannot maintain a healthy cash flow, so drawing up a detailed business plan and staying on top of your finances is key if you want to make your venture a success,” he said.

How long did it take for you to make the jump into self-employment?


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Is working from home the key to productivity?

Words, hubbul

As individuals and businesses embrace remote working opportunities, the number of people working from home in the UK has grown to an impressive 4.2million in the past decade. And this figure which looks likely to increase given an additional 1.8million of us would like to work from the home if given the chance. 

With 14% of the entire UK workforce remote working, the question of whether it helps or hinders productivity has never been more pertinent.

The potential for workers to experience a better work-life balance, not to mention the savings for employers means a remote – and often freelance – workforce is becoming an attractive option for plenty of businesses. 

But how do workers themselves feel about it? Well, Work From Home Week, the organisation behind this research has revealed 53% of workers feel they would be more productive working from home, and without the need to attend unnecessary meetings at the office throughout the day.  

In addition to this, the research suggests job satisfaction and happiness increases among remote workers, who are given the chance to finally take control of their working day.


Employers are benefitting from this growing trend too, as workers avoid being exposed to office illnesses and lateness caused by the daily commute. It's been estimated that the UK will lose in the region of £300 billion by 2030 because of traffic congestion, but working from home eliminates this issue entirely, benefitting freelancers and employees, the companies they work with and the wider economy.

Conference calling specialists, Powwownow, echoed similar thoughts on the debate, revealing that 66% of workers get stressed out and flustered at least once a week by the commute. While Work From Home Week’s Founder, Adam Cox, called on companies of all sizes to embrace remote working should it be in a position to do so.

“Technology means that most of what needed to happen in an office can happen at home. While it won’t work for certain industries such as catering or building it certainly is viable for most office based sectors. We have found that productivity can actually increase significantly as employees are no longer experiencing the same level of distractions or interruptions.”

And it’s difficult to argue with the statistics. 70% of the people surveyed by Powwownow are more likely to want to work with a company offering remote working opportunities. That said, such flexibility is not perceived to be as important as salary, the research highlighted. Perhaps understandably, just 30% of workers would choose flexible working over a pay rise.


The rapid rise of remote working does require careful thought though. 56% of those surveyed would like to see businesses manage it better, which might involve upgrading existing IT infrastructure and training workers on how to truly reap its benefits. 

Despite predictable but arguably solvable challenges, remote working looks to be an important component in the future of work, given that businesses and workers across the board are clearly experiencing its many advantages. 

Are you more productive when working from home? Join the conversation…

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