Business owner tried to expense over £1000 worth of sausage and chips: HMRC’s latest list of ridiculous tax return excuses and expenses claims

An optimistic small business owner tried to claim £1,125 worth of sausage and chips as expenses on his tax return, according to HMRC.

It comes as HMRC release their latest list of ridiculous tax return excuses and expenses claims.

250 days of takeaway

One of the more audacious expenses claims came from a hungry business owner, who tried to expense 250 days worth of sausage and chips, at £4.50 a pop.

Putting the questionable dietary decision to one side, claiming for food as a business expense on your tax return can be tricky.

The general rule of thumb is that any expense must be “wholly and exclusively” for business purposes. When it comes to claiming for food and drink, they should be claimed as a travel expense. However, it must be clear that these are outside your normal working routine. So if you’re travelling to the same place of work every day – or indeed having sausage and chips almost everyday for lunch – you may well come unstuck.

For a full breakdown, take a look at our guide to self-employed tax deductible expenses.

‘Questionable excuses and spurious claims’

Completing a tax return isn’t always as straightforward as you’d think, but blaming aliens and the like might be a step too far.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, said: “Each year we still come across some questionable excuses, whether that’s blaming a busy touring schedule or seeing aliens. However, each year we’re making it easier and more intuitive for our customers to complete their tax return.

“We also receive absurd expense claims from vet fees for a rabbit to room service at a hotel. It is unfair to make honest taxpayers pick up the bill for other people’s spurious claims, so HMRC will only accept sincere claims such as legitimate expenses for a job.”

The tax return deadline is midnight on 31 January. So without further ado, here are 2018’s most ridiculous expenses claims and late tax return excuses.

Top failed self-employed expenses claims

  1. A three-piece suite for my partner to sit on when I’m doing my accounts

  2. Birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub

  3. Vet fees for a rabbit

  4. Hotel room service - for candles and prosecco

  5. £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days

Top excuses for missing the tax return deadline

  1. I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house

  2. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play

  3. My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go to retrieve it

  4. My business doesn’t really do anything

  5. I spilt coffee on it

Our favourite excuses through the years

Earlier in the year, Simply Business took a look at some of our favourite excuses from years gone by. From yacht fires to arguing siblings, check out 10 of our favourites in our video below.

Did you get yours in on time?

Every year thousands of business owners and landlords either miss the tax return deadline, or file their return incorrectly.

And while there’s no excuse for claiming over £1000 worth of sausage and chips, it’s easy to see how people can make mistakes. With difficult processes, confusing codes, and a lack of obvious help, filing a tax return can be tricky.

So we want to know, what’s the most frustrating thing about filing a tax return?

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