Tax & admin · 24 January 2017

Revealed: HMRC’s ten most ridiculous self-assessment tax expense claims

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A Caribbean holiday rated high on the government’s list of outlandish expense claims

The UK tax authority has released its latest list of the most bizarre and optimistic tax expense claims it received last year, ahead of the 2017 self-assessment tax deadline on 31 January.

To discourage small business owners from making over-the-top tax expense claims that have little chance of being accepted, HMRC’s list of favourites reveal some corkers from the 2014/15 tax year.

From first-class holidays to garden sheds to luxury dog food, it seems the expenses claimed for by small UK business owners get more ludicrous every year.

Commenting on the newly-published list, HMRC’s director general of customer services, Ruth Owen, stated: “Why should the honest taxpayer pick up the bill for others? HMRC will only accept those claims which are genuine, such as legitimate travel expenses or the cost of tools for the job.”

Below are HMRC’s top ten weird and wonderful expense claims submitted last year, all of which the tax authority rejected:

  • Holiday flights to the Caribbean
  • Luxury watches as Christmas gifts for staff from a company with no employees
  • International flights for dental treatment ahead of business meetings
  • Pet food for a Shih Tzu “guard dog”
  • Armani jeans as protective clothing for a painter and decorator
  • Cost of regular Friday night “bonding sessions” running into thousands of pounds
  • Underwear – for personal use
  • A garden shed for private use, plus the costs of the space it takes up in the garden
  • Betting slips
  • Caravan rental for the Easter weekend

Owen added: “Year after year we receive a number of ludicrous expense claims, ranging from international holiday flights to expensive designer clothing, which we would never uphold.”

“The seven-day countdown to the 31 January self-assessment deadline is now on. Don’t delay and risk a penalty, the time to submit your tax return is now.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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