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Carpenter claims £900 for a 55 inch TV and sound bar – here’s HMRC’s latest list of ridiculous tax return excuses and expense claims

2-minute read

Sam Bromley

Sam Bromley

21 January 2019

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One Self Assessment taxpayer tried to blame their late tax return on a curse, while a carpenter tried to expense £900 for a 55 inch TV and a sound bar.

HMRC have released their latest list of ‘weird and wonderful’ Self Assessment excuses and expense claims, and it makes for great reading.

While completing a Self Assessment tax return is often challenging, we’re not surprised these excuses and expense claims didn’t cut the mustard.

Can high-quality audio help you price jobs?

A 55 inch TV and a sound bar are great for catching up on that Netflix backlog, although it’s more difficult to see how a decent home cinema setup can help price jobs, as one plucky carpenter claimed.

He put £900 for this premium tech on his tax return, which was roundly rejected by HMRC.

Even if the TV is used for pricing jobs, claiming for equipment like this on a tax return isn’t likely to be successful.

Generally, all expenses need be “wholly and exclusively” for business purposes. So, it’s possible to claim for business equipment like computers and printers as capital allowances, as long as personal use is ‘incidental.’

Read more about what you can claim as self-employed tax deductible expenses.

Top excuses for missing the tax return deadline

Without further ado, here are 2019’s most ridiculous expenses claims and late tax return excuses:

  1. My mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me
  2. I’m too short to reach the post box
  3. I was just too busy – my first maid left, my second maid stole from me, and my third maid was very slow to learn
  4. Our junior member of staff registered our client in Self Assessment by mistake because they were not wearing their glasses
  5. My boiler had broken and my fingers were too cold to type

Top failed self-employed expenses claims

  1. A carpenter claiming £900 for a 55 inch TV and sound bar to help him price his jobs
  2. £40 on extra woolly underwear, for five years
  3. £756 for my pet dog insurance
  4. A music subscription so I can listen to music while I work
  5. A family holiday to Nigeria

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Help available to those with a genuine excuse

When it comes to reasons for filing a late tax return, last year’s top excuse went to: “I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house.” The supernatural theme continued this year, as a curse stopped one unfortunate taxpayer from filing their Self Assessment on time.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, said:

“We want to make it as simple as possible for our customers to do their tax returns and the majority make the effort to do theirs right and on time. But each year we still come across some poor excuses and expenses which range from problems with maids to televisions.

“Help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time but it’s unfair to the majority of honest taxpayers when others make bogus claims.”

The online tax return deadline is midnight on 31 January.

Our top 10 favourite excuses

We’ve made a short video that runs down our top 10 favourite excuses for late tax returns over the years. From yacht fires to arguing siblings, why not see which one is your favourite?

Stuck with your return? Check out our tax and Self Assessment resource

Last year almost 750,000 people missed the tax return deadline, which leads to an initial £100 penalty that increases over time.

With the 31 January deadline looming, it’s best to get yours done sooner rather than later (if you haven’t already). Rushing to get it done at the last minute can lead to costly mistakes.

While the excuses here didn’t fly with HMRC, we appreciate that Self Assessment can be tricky. That’s why we’ve created a tax and Self Assessment resource to help see you through the process, with top tips, articles, and guides.

How do you get on with the Self Assessment process? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sam Bromley

Written by

Sam Bromley

Sam has more than 10 years of experience in writing for financial services. He specialises in illuminating complicated topics, from IR35 to ISAs, and identifying emerging trends that audiences want to know about. Sam spent five years at Simply Business, where he was Senior Copywriter.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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