back to article The lighter side of HMRC: We want your money, but we also want to make you laugh

It's well known that the UK's taxman would like a bit more dosh to fill its coffers – but it doesn't want to come across as a humourless leech. Like many organisations on the hunt for cash, HMRC has been accused of going after the low-hanging fruit first. Take the reforms to IR35 that are being rolled out despite concerns from …

  1. Korev Silver badge

    They included £40 on "extra woolly underwear, for 5 years" (possibly for the person who was too cold to type)

    If your job involves being outside in winter then I could see how this would be a legitimate expense - it seems a bit harsh.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Or possibly a medical device / PSE... some people get non-freezing cold injuries, particularly those who have inherited genes from a bloodline that evolved in perpetually warmer climes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "!If your job involves being outside in winter then I could see how this would be a legitimate expense"

      I think the test you have to be able to establish that the woo;y underwear was totally work related and that it could not be used for non-work use as well .... seem recall there was a case where a female barrister tried to claim her court clothes as a work related expense on the basis that she wouldn't wear clothes with such "conservative" style and colour outside court but she lost as HMRC tribunal ruled that just because she said she wouldn't wear that sort of clothing outside court didn't remove the possibility that she could so the clothes weren't "for work only" and thus weren't a deductible expense.

      1. Michael Nidd

        Works in Sweden too

        According to someone who should know, ABBA chose stage costumes that could not possibly be used privately for exactly that reason.

        https://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/feb/16/abba-outfits-tax-deduction-bjorn-ulvaeus

  2. Rich 11 Silver badge

    so what borderline things will you be claiming for this year?

    £1.45 million for six months of warehouse space to ensure that I can weather the Brexit fuckup.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: so what borderline things will you be claiming for this year?

      Why not create a storage company with no actual storage and then contract to the government for Brexit?

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: so what borderline things will you be claiming for this year?

        So much hassle, so much time, so much financial outlay! Why take the risk? Apply for the Brexit contract and, if you get it, charge the setting up of the company into the contract, you could probably even claim it against tax as a business expense ... Seems just as legit as a no shipping shipping company or a no government Government.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: so what borderline things will you be claiming for this year?

        nah, how about a ferry business that... wait, what, ALREADY TAKEN by a couple of quick-thinking business souls with well-placed connections?! So sad! :(

      3. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: so what borderline things will you be claiming for this year?

        and then contract to the government for Brexit?

        This time next year, Aladders, we could be millionaires.

        1. Nick Kew

          Re: so what borderline things will you be claiming for this year?

          Like I was a millionaire every month I worked in Italy in the 1990s[1]? Interesting thought we could be there so quickly!

          [1] This being before the era of the €, £1million was the ballpark of a month's rent on a low-end apartment.

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: so what borderline things will you be claiming for this year?

            In 1998, 1.4m lire was my expenses claim for a four-day business trip in northern Italy (flights excluded).

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: so what borderline things will you be claiming for this year?

      There will be NO border, so there will be NO BORDERLINE.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: so what borderline things will you be claiming for this year?

        No border? So, no big, beautiful wall? Oh wait... you have the Channel.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: you have the Channel.

          Not between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland we don't. Yet.

          Actually... would it be cheaper to dredge a canal across the Mexico border... like a new Panama? Could monetise it then as a shipping channel.

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: you have the Channel.

            Your idea makes almost as much sense as what's actually being proposed...

          2. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

            Re: you have the Channel.

            > Could monetise it then as a shipping channel.

            Monetise a shipping channel? You could call it Dogger Bank.

            1. Alister Silver badge

              Re: you have the Channel.

              You could call it Dogger Bank.

              No, that's a porn channel...

          3. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
            Childcatcher

            Re: you have the Channel.

            The Romans tried a couple of walls in the area. Perhaps they could be relocated a bit to the west to save on materials costs.

  3. Crisp Silver badge

    If we taxed the rich properly

    Then we wouldn't need to tax the poor and then spend all that money in administration topping up their wages with universal credit.

    If you're going to tax the poorest and then give it back to them, why not just not take it in the first place?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If we taxed the rich properly

      There's actually a good write-up on this , since this is a well worn trope but sadly, as far as income tax goes, they definitely do pay their fair share. If the bottom 50% of earners are paying about 10% of the income tax, that seems fair to me...

      https://fullfact.org/economy/do-top-1-earners-pay-28-tax-burden/

      Corporation tax sadly is a whole other affair.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: If we taxed the rich properly

        This is worth a read as well.

        1. Fonant

          Re: If we taxed the rich properly

          It's OK, but doesn't say how much each man earns. So we don't know how much of their income each man is paying for his beer. Or how much disposable income each man has.

          Taxation should be as much about how much people should be able to afford to pay as how the tax income is distributed amongst the range of different incomes.

          1. JassMan Silver badge
            Holmes

            Re: If we taxed the rich properly

            The real problem is that the whole tax system is based on declared income. This means that there are some serious distortions to the system. Once you get paid over 100K it is worth paying experts to find ways to write off losses for investments in shell companies owned by your dead maiden aunt, claim expenses, and offshore the rest of your income. Top people also get paid in shares so they pay a much lower rate on capital gains. etc. At the lower end some people have occupations which enable them to declare all their payments made by cheques, but hide cash payments. The only people who pay tax based on their true income are those paid a salary as opposed to remuneration.

            I know all this is a gross oversimplification of an extremely complex situation but the real problem is the badly written rules on allowable losses which the super rich can use to offset their income.

            @Alladin Sane, good work finding the beer analogy. Where it falls down though, is the way it doesn't tell you that the 10th man lives in a 50Million mansion full of 250million worth of saleable contents inherited from his grandfather.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: If we taxed the rich properly

          As you'd expect from the Torygraph it sort of glides casually past the issue that the richest two have twice as much money as the other eight put together.

        3. EmilPer.

          Re: If we taxed the rich properly

          very amusing, but the majority of the taxes retrieved by any government do not come from income tax but from import taxes, VAT and excise taxes, which everybody pays

      2. jmch Silver badge

        Re: If we taxed the rich properly

        "as far as income tax goes, they definitely do pay their fair share"

        According to (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_in_the_United_Kingdom ), top 10% in UK earn 21% of employment income, so 28% of employment income taxes means taxes are only slightly progressive. BUT most really rich people make their money through capital gains and dividends rather than a paycheck, and these are taxed less than employment income. For dividends the rates per bracket are 7.5 / 32.5 / 38.1% vs employment income tax 20 / 40 / 45%. For capital gains the highest rates are 28% for property and 20% for anything else.

        So when including all types of income, the richest 10% probably pay less than their fair share and the top 1% even less so. That's before we even start on the revenues from VAT and fuel/tobacco/alcohol etc duties that are disproportionately paid for by the poorest.

        1. CommanderGalaxian
          Headmaster

          Re: If we taxed the rich properly

          Except a lot of the additional taxes such as the dividend tax hit ordinary freelance workers - rather than simply being a tax wheeze for the rich.

          As most most freelance contractors do - they work through their own Ltd Co. - making their effective tax on dividend earnings 19% (the CT rate on their net profit) + 7.5% (the dividend rate) = 26.5% (vs 20% for employee earnings).

          So basically the indolent wealthy prosper - while self-reliant workers are penalised.

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: If we taxed the rich properly

            So basically the indolent wealthy prosper - while self-reliant workers are penalised.

            Not much point in one's family funding a political party for seven generations unless one benefits from it, old chap.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If we taxed the rich properly

            So basically the indolent wealthy prosper - while self-reliant workers are penalised.

            Why do you think the rich are indolent? All the rich people I've ever known have worked their arses off, and even when stinking rich won't give up the habit of holding their own nose to the grindstone. Often this costs them any conventional definition of happiness, and frequently their personal relationships as well.

            Your other points (which I think translates to one generally about marginal rates of tax) is valid, but what of it? "Fairer", ie higher taxes for the rich has been tried many times in many countries before - but the wealth of the very rich is usually globally mobile, and the evidence is clear that increasing the tax rate reduces the total tax take. Not to mention reducing the incentive to make yourself wealthy if penal tax rates reward the government more than they do the entrepreneur. Any sane person will move their money where it won't be exposed to excessive tax rates.

            I might also add that being "rich" is about wealth ownership, not how much the individual accesses. So the Duke of Westminster might well be a bazillionaire, but if that's all in property or paper assets, all you can tax is his income - like you and I. You could try a wealth tax, but those too have a long and sorry history of not delivering the intended outcome.

        2. teebie

          Re: If we taxed the rich properly

          That wikipedia article says the top 1% have 21% of existing wealth, not income.

          The top 1% have 8.6+4.2=12.8% of the income, and pay 28% of income tax.

          This isn't the result I was expecting.

          Points about this being only declared income and the effect of other taxes still stand, of course.

        3. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

          Re: If we taxed the rich properly

          For dividends the rates per bracket are 7.5 / 32.5 / 38.1% vs employment income tax 20 / 40 / 45%

          Dividends have already had corporation tax at 19% paid on them, which employment income hasn't. This makes the effective rates 26 / 45 / 50%.

        4. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

          Re: If we taxed the rich properly

          > top 10% in UK earn 21% of employment income, so 28% of employment income taxes means taxes are only slightly progressive.

          top ONE% pay 28% tax.

          and top 5% pay ~50%.

          so... highly progressive.

          .

          To put it another way, if you drive the top 5% into actively sheltering their income (or offshore), then all us plebs have to pay twice as much tax to maintain the existing services.

    2. a pressbutton

      Re: If we taxed the rich properly

      ... the meaning of 'Properly' will depend on whether you are

      that rich person who has his (for is is usually a he) own subway system / private island

      or

      that not so rich person who has his or her own cardboard box.

      (imo, in a rich, civilised society, not having somewhere warm and dry to sleep should be v.v. rare)

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: If we taxed the rich properly

        I expect on your private island you can grow the smoking herb of your choice as well, tax free.

  4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    The beatings will continue until moral improves.

    1. DuchessofDukeStreet
      Paris Hilton

      Moral

      Nothing wrong with my morals...my morale may be a different matter

    2. a pressbutton
      Coat

      re: The beatings will continue until moral improves.

      Does repeated beating improve morels?

      Time for lunch. Fancy an omlette

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: re: The beatings will continue until moral improves.

        This is now flogging a dead horse...

  5. Reaps

    was that an MP?

    "£900 55-inch TV and soundbar"

    sounds like the type of thing a MP would claim for..fucking parasites

    1. Anne-Lise Pasch

      Re: was that an MP?

      I'm using a 55" tv as my main monitor right now. Its the right width, but I don't use the top of the screen much.

      1. Is It Me Bronze badge

        Re: was that an MP?

        My bosses boss has a 55" 4K TV and 55" 4k monitor on his desk

        The TV was purchased before the monitor became a reasonable cost, the main difference I can see is the that the TV is glossier so you have to be more careful in where it is placed to avoid reflections

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    too short to reach the post box

    some type of oompa loompa ?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: too short to reach the post box

      Yeah, couldn't put the postage at the top, so had to stamp his foot.

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: too short to reach the post box

      "If that last one is genuine, things are only going to get worse for this person, as MPs are pushing to ban low-level letterboxes"

      Which is to meet the EU standards because without our benevolent overlords dictating from on high how would we possibly live in this world:

      "The Communication Workers Union is campaigning for new buildings to meet EU letter box height standards" - https://www.continentaltelegraph.com/brexit/how-eu-the-law-must-determine-the-placement-of-letterboxes/

      1. Luke Worm

        Re: too short to reach the post box

        "The union first started its campaign to raise the level of letterboxes in 1958 and, while it was agreed by the British Standards Agency, it was never enshrined into building standards law. “

        1958 !! Long before the EU then.

        https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-46895002

      2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Stop

        @codejunky

        One word : Brexit.

        You no longer have the right to complain about the EU - you're leaving it.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: @codejunky

          @Pascal Monett

          "You no longer have the right to complain about the EU - you're leaving it."

          Leaving suggests not left and with the remoaning efforts being made the leaving is still in question. So until the benevolent overlords end at their own borders then I have every right to complain about the EU.

      3. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: too short to reach the post box

        The joke's on you. Why?

        EN13724 is available from the BSI Shop and available in different languages including French and German.

        It is prepared by the SVS/4 committee.

        What's this nefarious committee which dares to rule over our lives? Why, it's a British committee belonging to the BSI.

        The story sited Ireland's adaptation to this EU standard. So there you have evidence that the UK has influenced foreign countries because the BSI created this standard and it was adopted by the EU.

        So, Brexit means British influence on future standards will be lost, because the the UK won't be part of the EU.

        Are we taking back control yet?

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: too short to reach the post box

          @Dan 55

          "So, Brexit means British influence on future standards will be lost, because the the UK won't be part of the EU."

          Thankfully. Instead of being trapped by duff standards of low power, correct curve of a banana, what fruits are allowed to be put into a product called jam etc we can join the rest of the world.

          "Are we taking back control yet?"

          We aint left yet but there is still hope

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: too short to reach the post box

            Thankfully. Instead of being trapped by duff standards of low power, correct curve of a banana, what fruits are allowed to be put into a product called jam etc we can join the rest of the world.

            All disproven:

            Low power and bananas - fail and fail.

            Jam - fail.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: too short to reach the post box

              @Dan 55

              "Low power and bananas - fail and fail."

              The Guardian? Seriously?

              Power- https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/eu-households-save-%E2%82%AC45-year-thanks-new-energy-efficiency-measures

              Bananas- https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/05/12/to-properly-explain-the-eus-bendy-bananas-rules-yes-theyre-real/#7eb7505f6fc9

              So if you wish to argue to power and banana laws are a lie you will have to argue with the EU who dictate that they are real. If you honestly think EU laws are disproven then you are severely misinformed. These links both quote the law. And link to it.

              "Jam - fail."

              That is so cute! I see your link talking about sugar content (which the gov is trying to clamp down on anyway the nutters) but I might have missed the bit where they dictate what is acceptable as jams, jellies and marmalade. Here is a better one which quotes the freaking law- https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/06/26/brexit-will-free-the-bendy-banana-incandescent-light-bulbs-and-tomato-marmalade/#7d3e88197ca0

              I am glad you tagged your comment with the fail icon because it amazingly did fail in every way. When debating these things try looking at sources that quote the law. Not some propaganda piece but one that actually quotes the law. The laws with penalties of 6 months in jail and or a £5,000 fine.

              It matters, because otherwise you are misinforming people when you claim the law does not exist. And the laws are there, written, available for you to look at.

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                Re: too short to reach the post box

                I think I did a fairly good job of deciding your low-information post.

                Nobody dictates anything, your post shows a fundamental misunderanding of how it works. The UK is part of the process of developing single market standards, as it did for the letter box standard above. Indeed, the UK developed the single market in the first place.

                If the UK didn't manage to effectively take part in a standard for something, perhaps it is the fault of the civil servants who took part?

                If later on you call something an EU standard and rail against it, even though it was developed in the UK and is a perfectly good standard, again, that betrays your irrational hatred of the EU more than anything else.

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: too short to reach the post box

                  @Dan 55

                  You seem to have missed a fundamental part of our discussion. You said 3 things I pointed out were disproven I pointed you to the laws, the EU laws specifically stating the very things you claim were disproven.

                  So would you care to either refute that you were 3 out of 3 wrong by virtue of my providing the laws you claim not to exist, or agree that your post was wrong.

                  No need for woolly words or moving goal posts, just admit it.

                  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                    Re: too short to reach the post box

                    So you object to single market standards existing even if the UK is part of making them, not the incorrect reporting of them.

                    You seem to prefer the fact that in the event of Brexit the UK won't be part of the process for creating single market standards, yet if it is to sell to the EU after Brexit it would have to meet them anyway.

                    I can see no logical rational reason for your stance on this subject.

                    But if it makes you feel happier, I admit single market standards on jams, bananas, and low power electrical appliances exist, the UK was part of making them, and British newspapers misreported them, and you fell for the Sun, the Express, and the Mail's propaganda on behalf of their non-dom billionaire owners.

                    By the way, Dyson's buggeted off today. Another one who believes so much in Brexit he's relocated his company HQ out of the chaos that it'll bring and, this is funny, will take advantage of the free trade agreement Singapore has with the EU.

                    Ever had the feeling you've been had?

                    1. codejunky Silver badge

                      Re: too short to reach the post box

                      @Dan 55

                      So stripping your comment of all the worthless rubbish you insisted on putting on there the key part is-

                      "But if it makes you feel happier, I admit single market standards on jams, bananas, and low power electrical appliances exist"

                      And it is ok to admit you are wrong. As long as in future you dont go back to misleading claims that the laws dont exist.

                      Thank you

                      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                        Re: too short to reach the post box

                        I don't honestly get what you're trying to prove other than the single market exists, but this was news about a quarter of a century ago.

                        Your misunderstandings as shown in this thread about what falls under these standards and what doesn't, who develops these standards, and how the UK would lose influence are disproven, however.

                        Thank you.

                        1. codejunky Silver badge

                          Re: too short to reach the post box

                          @Dan 55

                          "I don't honestly get what you're trying to prove"

                          Actually that is not only obvious but the problem. You made a comment making 3 points that was 100% factually inaccurate. Not only that but we have been over this many times (if I remember correctly) and you still make the same claims after being proven wrong.

                          Even now after being proven 100% wrong and sort of admitting it you still try to shift the topic or avoid accepting you are wrong. If we cant agree on facts then there is no way we can discuss political opinion.

                          So either accept the facts or refute them with quality sources. If we cannot agree on the facts then you will think I misunderstand and you wont get my comments, because they are based on factual information. I openly admit when I am wrong, you give it a try.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Child benefit...

    My wife gets child benefit on one side, and it gets taken off me on the other.

    I was even onboard with this. Much as I'd rather not have to pay the extra £1800 a year in tax, I appreciate that I earn more than many, many people in this country, and while the benefits were limited to the first two kids I was this as a fair(ish) deal for both sides. Then the government have pulled (yet another) U-turn and decided that child benefit can be paid on all children, not just two. So I'm left pissed off because I'm now funding every spawn of irresponsible fucking machines that won't get a job. And I'm persistently pursued by HMRC who seemingly want to penalise me for working hard.

    Woo-fucking-hoo.

    Also, the traffic was the mother of all shits this morning, so I'm in a grumpy-as-fuck mood.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Child benefit... @AC

      What you are supposed to do is tell your wife to let the DWP or whoever it is that pays child benefit that one of the bread-winners is a higher rate tax payer, so that the benefit is stopped.

      No, it didn't work for me either. My wife kept saying she'd call and do it, right up to the point that our youngest child left education. She didn't want to lose the income that was under her sole control (which actually often didn't get spent on the children, but that's another story).

      It's effectively you paying your wife the equivalent amount as the child benefit, but by a really, really inefficient route. And on top of that, the fact that in UK law, your tax affairs are your concern, not your spouses (and vice-verse) means that if your partner won't tell you what child benefit they receive, you're effectively guessing (with a little bit of assistance from HMRC in the self assessment process) what the amount is, with no check to say whether you are correct!

      Definitely a broken system.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Child benefit... @AC

        Hi, Peter. I get that, and I understand why we're not eligible for child benefit. As I say, I was moderately happy with the situation until the overbreeding u-turn.

        As it stands, though, if we get my wife to cancel child benefit then we lose £150 per month (or thereabouts) immediately, whilst I'm still paying back £150 per month from 2 years ago. So that's two years of being down by £150 per month instead of just swallowing £150 per month ongoing.

        We didn't know that this was going to happen, so we borrowed to do work on the house. I can pay back the 150, but losing 300 each month would be a kick in the balls. We'll either run it until the house bills are paid up or until the kids outgrow it. Whichever.

        I appreciate that there are people who need the money a lot more than me. I just grudge losing our benefits (that I'm certain we would have been eligible for in years past), to pay for somebody else's litter.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Child benefit... @AC

          If you do opt out of receiving child benefits payments then you enter a Kafka-esque world of annual letters explaining what the new rate of child benefit you are entitled to will be follwoed by a comment that as you have opt-ed out from receiving payments then you will continue to not receive any payments..

        2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Child benefit... @AC

          It's CHILD benefit, not pay-your--mortgage-for-you benefit (do you still get that as well, it used to exist, would it survive austerity, I know where I'd bet).

          What it reminds me of, I may be misremembering the story, but my mum grew up with British food rationing and had three brothers. This meant that gran could give grandad an egg with his breakfast every day of the week that was supposed to be for the kids.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Child benefit... @AC

            It's CHILD benefit, not pay-your--mortgage-for-you benefit

            Yep. and it would (and does) go towards raising my two children. As it is, I have to take money that I'd spend paying the mortgage and use it to pay back HMRC for money they've handed to my wife.

            And, no. HMRC have never felt manganimous enough to offer to pay any of my mortgage.

          2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: Child benefit... @Robert

            When it comes to aggregating all income, it does not matter whether it is being used to pay the mortgage, just as long as the appropriate amount is spent on the kids.

            But it could well be argued that helping keep a roof over their heads or feeding them is actually beneficial to them.

            Only where equivalent amount is being spend on unnecessary items could you really make a case for it being wasted.

            There were many unjust things that happened during rationing. It's just the way things work when people do not follow the purpose and intent of the policy. People tend to be selfish, that's just human nature. Society can mostly overcome the selfishness, but never truly enforce it without undermining itself.

          3. Anonymous Cowtard

            Re: pay-your--mortgage-for-you benefit (do you still get that as well, it used to exist

            Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) used to pay the interest on a mortgage, capital repayment was the responsibility of the homeowner.

            SMI was changed to a loan last year : https://www.moneywise.co.uk/news/2018-04-26/dwp-admits-42000-claimants-have-had-mortgage-help-stopped

        3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Child benefit... @AC

          I was not suggesting that you did not agree, rather pointing out how stupid the HMRC systems are.

          I also agreed that if the child benefit bill needed to be cut, that my family should be in the group for whom it was removed, but that still made it a little unwelcome (who actually likes losing income that they've previously received).

          I think that it should be possible for the person earning the income to inform DWP that child benefit should not be paid to their spouse, but that is not the way it works (I suppose that there is some justification to avoid vexatious claims). Child benefit was always paid to the woman, supposedly so that they had control of it to spend on the children rather than it being pissed up the wall by their stereotypical drunken layabout husband. And as a result, the woman has to say they don't want it any more.

          But I wonder how many women are not told by their husbands that they are higher-rate tax payers, and the women neglect to say that they're receiving child benefit? Do HMRC actually perform any checks to see whether people are not declaring that the household is receiving child benefit?

      2. weallneedhelp

        Re: Child benefit... @AC

        If your wife is not working then you should not stop the benefit. While your wide is paid child benefit she will also gain national insurance credits, if you opt out of the benefit she will loose these.

        https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/jul/28/beware-forgoing-child-benefit-could-cost-you-your-state-pension

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Child benefit... @weallneedhelp

          Hmmm. That's very interesting. Although I followed the news when the change in policy was being argued and announced, I don't ever remember that being mentioned.

          That article suggests that if you claimed and then opt out you remain earning credits. It is suggesting that you should not decide to not claim.

          I wonder where to get clarification on this.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Child benefit... @AC

          If your wife is not working then you should not stop the benefit.

          Even if the bastards are going to claw it back, still claim it if you're not losing it through PAYE, and stick it in premium bonds before you have to pay it back with your next tax return. You probably won't win much, on the other hand you're playing the government's own version of Lotto with money that they claim is theirs all along.

  8. vonBureck
    Coat

    Quoting from the linked MP motion about letterboxes

    When it comes to front doors, a lot of people are very fond of their knockers.

    Cue sniggering from the Honourable Members...

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Quoting from the linked MP motion about letterboxes

      The letterbox move is all to ensure that the postman can get it through the flap without straining. Of course, the legislation will only apply to the front entrance rather than anything going in by the back door.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quoting from the linked MP motion about letterboxes

        Not just postmen ... I remember attending hustings for the general election in the early 80s when I was at University and one of the questions was to ask the candidates what private memebrs bill they would like ot introduce if they got elected and after a couple of candidates made fairly predicatable and "worthy" suggestions the third said that having spend the previous 3 weeks knocking on doors and putting leaflets through letterboxes then he'd introduce a law requiring every house to have a door bell button and a letter box of a standard design and in the same position on every door!

        1. Toni the terrible

          Re: Quoting from the linked MP motion about letterboxes

          Could be a runner - no seems to be able to find my front door bell. Mind you when they do I can hear it all over the house and in the back garden.

  9. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Excuses????

    Well, there is even a course and conference on writing excuses. Combined with a Carribean cruise I'm sure that HMRC will allow that as a business expense... (not)

    The Writing Excuses Conference 2019

    https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-writing-excuses-conference-2019-tickets-50784251062

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Excuses????

      Actually, that is a full-on legit conference for fiction authors complete with panels hosted by well-known authors, agents and others involved in the publishing industry. It just happens to have spun out of a podcast called 'writing excuses'.

      So HMRC should treat it as a 100% legit expense if you are involved in the publishing industry.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Excuses????

        "a full-on legit conference for fiction authors"

        Excuses for missing deadlines perhaps? "Sorry, I had it written but a pirate of the Caribbean ate it."

  10. Caver_Dave
    Joke

    Tax humour

    I once asked a Tax Inspector the best way to go about paying my tax. He said "with a smile".

    Well I tried that the next time I went into the Tax Office, but they insisted on cash!

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Tax humour

      According to Jessie J, you can pay with love. Got me banned from M&S though.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Tax humour

        So will paying through the nose.

  11. dermots

    "...and someone else said they were too short to reach the post box. (If that last one is genuine, things are only going to get worse for this person, as MPs are pushing to ban low-level letterboxes.)"

    Sorry to pour cold, humourless water on any part of an article demonstrating the absolutely incredible sense of humour that exists at HMRC, but the MPs were discussing (as your wording rightly says) letterboxes, not post boxes (as your wording also rightly says). But I suppose it is possible that the chappy was hand delivering to HMRC in person.

    More interesting would be to hear HMRC's laugh-filled ripostes to these zany justifications they've received. I'll bet there are zingers such as "late filing fine" and "penalty surcharge enclosed"...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      For me it was threatening court action and debt collectors over Christmas, and sending me a letter which I received on the 31st of January last year demanding immediate payment within 7 days (the latter was dated 7 days previous) or they were sending round The Law. Leaving me spending 2 hours in a queue on the Self Assessment helpline on the 31st of January, regarding money that in the end I didn't owe.

      Har har har.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what borderline things will you be claiming for this year?

    distress and uncertainly related to brexit (priceless)

  13. I Am Spartacus

    Not this year

    When I was a contractor I was advised my my accountant that I needed to spend some money from the company because otherwise we would have net profits that hot a tax band. We were going to lose the money one way or another. So, best to spend it ourselves, Right?

    So we organised a research trip to investigate the effect of distant nuclear fusion on granular land/sea interfaces.

    And that's how I got a holiday in the sun on a beach rather than paying tax.

    a/c - OBVIOUSLY!

    1. gerdesj Silver badge

      Re: Not this year

      "a/c - OBVIOUSLY!"

      Really, Mr Spartacus?

  14. 2+2=5 Silver badge

    what borderline things will you be claiming for this year?

    From HMRC's list...

    > 4. a music subscription, so I can listen to music while I work

    I wonder if that sub would have included Billy Joel's Close To The Borderline?

    1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

      Re: what borderline things will you be claiming for this year?

      I would expect that, if said music subscription was only available on work devices, in the "office" (home office may be dodgy), one could claim it was "wholly and exclusively" for business use. It's flying close to the wind, though, and HMRC would probably come back with "even though you only use it for work, you could use it outside for personal use, so jog on".

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can I blame my mother?

    I went off for a month in China after arranging for her to get it all done through her accountant; only found out last week that she hadnt done it (she managed to do HERS though).

    Now scrabbling around trying to get it sorted in time.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Can I blame my mother?

      Would that make Mother's Day gifts claimable?

    2. Hector the Inspector
      Trollface

      Re: Can I blame my mother?

      Don't be a fanny.

      Self Assessment.... Surely the clue is the word Self?

      Your tax, your responsibility.

      Sounds like if brains were taxable, you'd be due a rebate.

  16. codejunky Silver badge

    Ha

    For those wanting the government to do more consider HMRC. Its purpose being to take the correct amount of money from people which will then be spent by our betters/leaders/parasites. If anyone still wants the government to take more control they probably dont yet pay tax.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Ha

      "Its purpose being to take the correct amount of money from people"

      Hi indeed. It's the "correct" bit that's tricky.

  17. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "claw back every penny owed"

    Not necessarily owed. There are reports of notices of fines for missing a submission date that hasn't even arrived. It seems to be a computer problem. Could this be something to do with HMRC having IR25-rwlated problems taking on freelancers?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here’s my excuse for not paying by 31st Jan - I submitted the paperwork to reduce the amount to be paid on account, due to lower profits from self employment, back in October, and they haven’t yet processed it.

    Can I fine them £100 for being too slow?

    1. Paul Shirley

      Knowing what bastards they can be I submitted my 'I've taken the year off, reduce my payments' application in early Nov18. No response in the promised 15 days, after a month I submitted a second request referencing the 1st one. That provoke a nearly instant response - that went straight in my spam folder! HMRC, even mail apps know they're scammers.

  19. Hector the Inspector

    Just file.....

    For the love of the wee fella!

    Just how hard is it to file yer bloody tax returns on time?

    You have just over 9 months from the end of the tax year to do it, and same amount of time to set the cash aside to pay Hector the Inspector.

    The strapline should be.... "Don't be a cunt, file your return."

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