This tall tale was one of the ten worst reasons for missing the January 31 self assessment deadline in 2013-14, says HM Revenue and Customs.
However, along with rodent infestations, family arguments and runny noses, this was unsuccessful in an appeal against an HMRC penalty for a late tax return.
Other unlikely stories included:
“My husband ran over my laptop”
“My tax papers were left in the shed and the rat ate them”
“My laptop broke, so did my washing machine”
“I’m not a paperwork-orientated person – I always relied on my sister to complete my returns but we have now fallen out”
“I had a cold which took a long time to go”
“My accountant has been ill”
“I will be abroad on deadline day with no internet access so will be unable to file”
“My niece had moved in – she made the house so untidy I could not find my log-in details to complete my return online”
“I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for 5 years”
HMRC says it will not accept “spurious excuses” when the vast majority hit the deadline and pay up what they owe.
A spokesperson said: “We understand that life can be unpredictable, and for those customers who have a genuine excuse for missing the 31 January deadline, such as the flooding, help is at hand”.
The number to call is 0800 904 7900.