Think you might miss the January 31 deadline for online tax returns? You’d better come up with a decent excuse if you want to avoid picking up a fine.

HM Revenue and Customs has released its annual list of the 10 worst excuses people have given for filing or paying their tax return late. Unsurprisingly, none of these led to a successful appeal.

  • • My pet dog ate my tax return…and all the reminders.
  • • I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a post box or get an internet signal.
  • • I fell in with the wrong crowd.
  • • I’ve been travelling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency.
  • • Barack Obama is in charge of my finances.
  • • I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs.
  • • A work colleague borrowed my tax return, to photocopy it, and didn’t give it back.
  • • I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park.
  • • My girlfriend’s pregnant.
  • • I was in Australia.