Excuses, excuses…

Need an excuse for being later with your tax return. I the UK you need a good one as they reject all the following…

  • My pet goldfish died;
  • I had a run-in with a cow
  • After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else
  • My wife won’t give me my mail
  • My husband told me the deadline was March 31, and I believed him
  • I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play
  • My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is
  • I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land
  • Our business doesn’t really do anything
  • I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns

But in Australia it appears it is a bit easier to make up excuses… Try this…

An ACT magistrate has accepted a man developed a phobia about tax returns following a home invasion 13 years ago, in which his attacker taunted him about his tax documents, preventing him from lodging them ever since.

Christopher Ray Streicher, 55, of Kingston, pleaded guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court to 15 counts of failing to comply with notices from the Australian Tax Office relating to his failure to lodge tax returns from 1991 to 2005.

But Magistrate John Burns dismissed the charges without recording a conviction this week, after accepting Mr Streicher had not lodged the tax returns because he was reminded of the attack every time he tried to complete them.

The court heard that in November 1994, Mr Streicher was determined to complete his outstanding tax returns, and spent several hours on a Saturday collating the papers. The next day he was the victim of a home invasion, assault and robbery.

“I always wanted and hoped to be able to comply. But if I tried I get emotionally upset,” Mr Streicher told the court.

In a psychological report on Mr Streicher dated May 15, 2007, senior psychologist Harold Bilboe wrote, “Mr Streicher reported that he was tied up and threatened several times with a large knife, the person [robber] threatening to kill him. The robber noted the tax papers on the floor and taunted him about the papers while at the same time stealing everything of value.

“Since that time, he has had severe feelings of panic whenever he attempts to deal with his tax returns. This has resulted in him being several years in arrears with his returns and facing charges from the Australian Taxation Office.”

“The defendant in this case could certainly be said to be experiencing ‘circumstances of an unusual kind’ personal to him,” Mr Burns said. “His mental condition, following the home invasion in 1994, had a considerable effect on his ability to comply with his obligations.” He said he was satisfied the medical evidence had established a “direct causal link between the defendant’s phobia and the work necessary for him to comply with the [Tax Offices’s] notices.” The magistrate did not order Mr Streicher to lodge the tax returns, but indicated he may do so later.

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About Ken Mansell

As a stay at home Dad most of the week this is my way of pretending I am still the tax counsel of ASX and SEC listed companies, working at big 4 firms, working at the Federal Treasury, on the Henry Review and at Parliament House for the previous government.
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