Each year, during tax return season, HM Revenue & Customs try to show that they do have a sense of humour, by publishing the funniest and most imaginative expense claims attempted and late filing excuses of the year.
This year marks the turn of the decade, and with the self-assessment tax return deadline just over a week away, HMRC have looked back over the past ten years and released a “top ten excuses of the decade” list for expense claims.
In reverse order, the ten most bizarre – and needless to say, unsuccessful – excuses and questionable expense claims of the decade were:
- caravan rental for the Easter weekend
- “I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a post box or get an internet signal”
- “my dog ate the post … again”
- claiming £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days
- “my hamster ate my post”
- “I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land”
- a music subscription so I can listen to music while I work
- pet food for a Shih Tzu ‘guard dog’
- a DJ was too busy with a party lifestyle – spinning the deck….in a bowls club
- my mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me
Angela MacDonald, HMRC director general of customer services, said:
“Each year, we try to make it as easy and simple as possible for our customers to complete their tax returns and the majority make the effort to do theirs’ right and on time. But we still come across some unusual excuses and expenses, which range from problems with a mother-in-law to yachts set on fire.
“We always offer help to those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time. It is unfair to the majority of honest taxpayers when others make bogus claims.
“If you think you might miss the deadline, get in touch with us now – the earlier we’re contacted, the more we can help.”
The deadline for submitting self-assessment tax returns is 31st January 2020, with a £100 penalty charged for late submissions that increases further after three months. Taxpayers that have a reasonable excuse for late submissions may be able to avoid the penalty, but there is no real need to risk a penalty: if you are struggling to find vital nuggets of information, you can still file the return on time and amend the details afterwards.
Millions of taxpayers are due to file tax returns this month; it is estimated that 750,000 of those will miss the deadline, and another 30,000 will submit their returns the hour before midnight next Friday.
There are various ways to legitimately reduce your tax liability using tax allowances or expense claims, should you qualify for them. Here are a few of the more common ones:
- Business Expenses
- Mileage Allowance
- Property Allowance / “Rent A Room” Scheme
- Gift Aid
- Pension Allowance
- Marriage Allowance
- Tax-friendly Investment Schemes
If you feel like your tax return is getting too complicated for you to manage, it is always advisable to consult an expert, to avoid making mistakes or paying too much tax.
23rd January 2020.