A tax firm has revealed that it’s not just MPs who are busy dreaming up increasingly strange things to claim on expenses. Online tax-filing service SimpleTax, conducted research with 150 accountancy firms to compile a list of the dodgiest expense claims that UK taxpayers had tried to get past the taxman and discovered people trying to claim everything from pet insurance to bouncy castles as business expenses. So what are the weirdest claims and what odd things can you actually claim for?
1. Dog food
The claimant said: “The dog is the office pet, not my personal pet, therefore I should be able to claim for his food and even his insurance.”
2. Membership to exclusive country club
The business owner argued: “I shower there before and after work, I don’t have a shower at home. I need to get clean to meet clients so it’s effectively a business expense.”
3. Bouncy castle, Spiderman cake and other party paraphernalia
The reasoning was: “Yes my bouncy castle was for business use only. As was the Spiderman cake. It was a team building event.”
4. Numerous designer dresses
The claimant argued: “I need to look my best when meeting clients and customers, it’s no different to having to spend out on a uniform.”
The business owner claimed: “In my line of work looks are everything, I need to retain a youthful appearance to represent my business.”
6. Playstation, games and gaming chair
One hopeful claimant said: “Work causes me a great deal of stress and I wouldn’t have a need to play a games console to unwind if I didn’t have such demanding clients.”
7. Personal Trainer x 15 sessions
This was defended as: “I think I am high risk for a heart attack and as I have a family to keep as well employing seven people it is important that I am in tip top shape.”
8. Heated swimming pool
The reasoning was: “I needed to relax after a busy day at work, my job was causing me back problems and swimming helps with that. I’ve actually had business meetings in the pool, a few sales leads and so on, so doesn’t it count as business development too?”
9. Eight Dental Veneers
The claimant wrote: “How many new clients do you think I would have got if I still had teeth like these. Photo attached.”
10. 226 bottles of energy drink over a twelve month period
The frazzled claimant added: “It wouldn’t be possible for me to complete my work without them, I wouldn’t make it past 11am without falling asleep at my desk and if I did that every day I’d be bankrupt within six months!”
Trying Your Luck With HMRC
Celso Pinto, founder and CEO, of SimpleTax says: “It’s clear that there are some people who are becoming ever more creative in trying their luck to see what they can get past the watchful eye of HMRC.”
However, despite the minority of people trying to squeeze things past the taxman, most people are more concerned about getting things right. Pinto adds: “People filing a self-assessment are actually much more likely to end up overpaying.”
Unfortunately for the above claimants, none of their inventive claims were considered reasonable expenses. However, there are some unusual things which are actually allowable expenses. These include claiming 20p for every mile you cycle, as long as you are travelling on business; body oil, which can be claimed by body builders who need their muscles to glisten for competitions. One woman was even permitted by the tax man to claim for ibuprofen, after successfully arguing that if it wasn’t for the business she wouldn’t have a headache.
My two personal favourites are men in the building trade can claim for ladies tights if they work outdoors and women in the adult entertainment industry can claim for thongs and garters if, as part of the act, they throw them into the audience.
So however unusual your potential expenses claim may be, you never know, it might just be allowable. So ask your accountant, but be prepared to be disappointed if, as I suspect in most cases he or she will say no!
If you would like more detailed information on some aspect of UK Tax, send me an e-mail and I’ll be pleased to advise further.