It’s deadline day – can you handle the pressure?

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As the clock ticks closer towards the deadline of midnight on 31 January to complete self-assessment tax returns, nearly two million people are estimated to have left it until the last minute.

Last year almost 750,000 people faced a fine of £100 by being late.

Some of those had imaginative (and unsuccessful) excuses for their tardiness. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has revealed some of the “outlandish” reasons they heard last year:

  • My mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me
  • I’m too short to reach the post box
  • I was just too busy – my first maid left, my second maid stole from me, and my third maid was very slow to learn
  • Our junior member of staff registered our client in self assessment by mistake because they were not wearing their glasses
  • My boiler had broken and my fingers were too cold to type

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HMRC

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HMRC has been running an awareness campaign

HMRC said it would provide help for those who had a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time.

Those could include the death of a partner or family member, serious illness, fire, flood or theft, computer failure or issues with HMRC online services.

But as the deadline for 2017/18 tax returns fast approaches, some people just can’t help leaving it until the pressure is really on.

Others admit procrastination is to blame.

If that applies to you here are some tips for procrastinators, from productivity expert Moyra Scott:

  • Try to minimise interruptions like email notifications. Putting your phone on airplane mode or going somewhere to work where you won’t be disturbed will also help
  • Being “busy” is easier than doing the thing we are avoiding. Instead of doing the task at hand, we do other stuff instead and kid ourselves that we don’t have the time. You do have the time. You just need to make it

HMRC has been reminding people that if their tax return is late, they will receive the penalty even if they do not owe any tax.

And the longer the delay, the bigger the penalty.

However, it’s not the only deadline day on Thursday – something which some football fans have found useful.

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