Each year self-assessment season strikes dread into the hearts of contractors and company directors across the country. For most, it is a laborious job compiling all the relevant information and liaising with your accountant to ensure an accurate submission. However, it is also the time of year that people try their luck and attempt to sneak expenses on that aren’t exactly business-related or find any excuse to explain their late return submission. We’ve looked at some of the more outlandish and, as such, unsuccessful claims and excuses HMRC have received over the years…


Failure to submit a return as “I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it”

This terrible excuse came from a man who claimed that his ex-wife had left his tax return upstairs in his house but due to a serious fear of heights he wasn’t able to access it. There are many ‘reasonable’ excuses for missing the submission deadline however this most definitely isn’t one of them.



£900 for a 55-inch TV and soundbar

When claiming for technology it is important that it is used “wholly and exclusively” for the purpose of business. A graphic designer may need a tablet to create images or a hairdresser may require a CRM system that allows for online bookings, however, this claim was made by a carpenter who apparently needed this bumper haul of “vital” technology to price his jobs. Unsurprisingly HMRC rejected his claim.


£756 to insure a pet dog

There are occasions when a dog could be classed as a business asset (sheepdogs, guard dogs, farm dogs), but be warned about grouping your pet dog in here too. While it may brighten up your day having a dog keeping you company while you work, it is almost definitely not a necessity and HMRC were less than impressed to receive such a claim and rejected it. If you’re unsure, this article from AccountingWeb outlines what can be classed as a working dog.


Family holiday to Nigeria

Sometimes a trip overseas could be business-related such as travelling to meet clients or attend a trade show. However, taking the whole family to Nigeria isn’t, and this attempt to reduce the financial cost of a family holiday was promptly rejected by HMRC.


These are just a few of the dubious claims and excuses HMRC have published, others include:

  • A claim of £40 on extra warm woolly underwear, for 5 years
  • Failure to file a return as their wife had been seeing aliens and won’t let them enter the house
  • A broken boiler meant their fingers were too cold to send their self-assessment
  • A music subscription so they were able to listen to music while working
  • Late submission of a return as their mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on them
  • Failure to submit a return as they were too short to reach the post box
  • Failed to submit a return as their business “doesn’t really do anything”


Luckily by working with a specialist contractor accountant, we can ensure you are claiming for everything you’re allowed to, and nothing that you’re not. If you have any questions on what you are able to claim for on your self-assessment, please don’t hesitate to contact your accountant or email our team on info@icsuk.com


Further Reading:

Do you have a ‘reasonable’ excuse for missing the Self Assessment deadline? – FreeAgent

5 tips for working with your accountant during Self Assessment season – FreeAgent