Revealed: the weirdest expense claims sent to HMRC

By Eleanor O'Neill, Student Blog

16 February 2017

January saw the self-assessment deadline come to pass and HMRC, perhaps fearing the worst, decided to share some of the rather odd claims that have been denied over the years.

Tax season can be a stressful time and apparently brings out the 'chancer' side in a lot of people.

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, said: “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.

"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."

Future CAs should definitely be on the lookout for any of the below popping up in the expenses of a client. Though admittedly they are amusing!

  • Regular Friday night bonding sessions. The local pub may be able to deduct the cost of lager but you certainly can't.
  • Armani jeans as protective clothing for painter and decorator. The price tag of his Sunday best must be eye-watering.
  • Pet food for a Shih Tzu ‘guard dog'. Shih Tzus being small, fluffy, particularly non-threatening pets.
  • Underwear - for personal use. Well, we would certainly hope it wasn't being shared around.
  • Luxury watches as Christmas gifts for staff. Which could be legitimate, if only you actually had any employees, unlike this claimant!
  • Holiday flights to the Caribbean. Nice try.

All of the above claims were rejected, but highlight how creative claimants can be in getting the most from their money!

Weird tax claims from around the globe

Weird claims are something of a regular thing in the tax world, and not all outlandish expenses are unsuccessful.

In the US, for example, the owner of a gas station once decided that customers would prefer beer over trading stamps. He deducted the beer as a business expense and, after an initial denial from the IRS, won the claim in Tax Court.

Cat food was written off by a couple who owned a scrapyard because they argued that the wild cats they attracted with it killed rats and snakes, therefore making their business environment safer for customers.

And one particularly intriguing case from a legal point of view saw a dentist qualify for restitution on fines he paid for fraud committed in his practice.


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