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Scaffolder’s expense claim has no support

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An employed scaffolder’s claims for work-related expenses were summarily rejected by HMRC. Although the FTT agreed with HMRC, it suspended the penalties imposed due to a lack of HMRC guidance for employees.

22nd Jun 2021
Tax Writer
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In June 2017, Storey filed tax returns for years 2014/15 to 2016/17, reporting his employment income as a scaffolder and claiming employment-related expenses totalling £31,890 over the three tax years. No notice to file a tax return under TMA 1970, s 8 was issued for any of the tax returns, so these were voluntary returns.

In June 2018, HMRC opened enquiries under TMA  1970, s 9A into each of the returns and requested evidence of the expenses incurred.

Claims denied

The taxpayer’s agent sent HMRC schedules of mileage and expensed items (including tools and clothes). However, the records were incomplete.

As a result, HMRC adjusted the returns, disallowing the majority of the employment expenses, and adding car and fuel benefits in Storey’s 2015/16 return. In October 2018, HMRC issued closure notices for all three years, with assessments totalling £12,998.

HMRC issued a penalty under FA 2007 Sch 24 for the inaccuracies, which after reductions, was 18% of the potential lost revenue of £12,998 (ie £2,339.63) for a careless prompted disclosure. The taxpayer appealed [TC08090].

Mileage

One of the main expenses in contention related to mileage.

Storey was employed as a site manager who attended different sites to perform his duties. Although he was given a company van, the taxpayer claimed that the mileage expenses related to the use of his personal vehicle to carry out his employment duties.

The records provided to support the mileage claim were sparse, but the biggest discrepancy came in the claim itself; the returns claimed that 60,000 miles had been driven between April 2015 and June 2017 in Storey’s personal vehicle, while the MOT records for the vehicle showed just 38,458 miles.

Storey’s agent argued that while the discrepancy was unanswerable, a reduction was due and not all mileage should be written off.

The FTT found that, given the discrepancies, the mileage log was practically unusable. In addition, the absence of records meant that the taxpayer could not establish that merely a reduction was due.

As a result, HMRC’s disallowance of the mileage expenses was upheld.

Other expenses

Storey also claimed other expenses such as subsistence, tools, and accountancy fees. The FTT also had to decide whether such expenses were incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of the taxpayer’s employment duties.

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Replies (8)

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By Roland195
22nd Jun 2021 18:22

I have a similar case at the moment and agree with the FTT comments that the position for employees with significant expenses would benefit from a clearer understanding of the rules, particularly where in a course of the tax year, they may move from employment to self employed to umbrella at the whim of the provider of the work.

Thanks (1)
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By Paul Crowley
22nd Jun 2021 21:16

Let's all hope HMRC puts on its website that it is improper to claim more miles than the vehicle has travelled.

Perhaps the accountants need to check their app

How else could this level of error happen?

Read out this from Taxation to a few people from my firm. Oddly nobody blamed HMRC for their website.
But the taxpayer was paying accountancy fees so I am confident the errors were all made in good faith.

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By C Graham
23rd Jun 2021 09:46

Storey - and he's a scaffolder!

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By meadowsaw227
23rd Jun 2021 11:12

It is more interesting that he had an agent who was happy to file the "figures" ! .

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By CJaneH
24th Jun 2021 11:15

I think that as well as revealing the tax payer the agent needs naming as well. I hope not a member of recognised accountancy body. I know I am not the only accountant who has lost clients and the new accountant results in much less tax being due.

I hope HMRC checks other clients of this agent

Thanks (1)
Replying to CJaneH:
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By kdbr
24th Jun 2021 12:45

Aye, but he's got an App...

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Replying to CJaneH:
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By hfiddes
09th Jul 2021 11:31

Just looked up the case above and his representative on the day was a Mr T McNally. It doesn't name him as the agent referred to in the judgment but he looks an interesting character - seems to run My Tax Back Ltd, has an app called Tommy's Tax (with good reviews on Google Play) and a website tommystax.com with incredibly good reviews...
Comments about it elsewhere are interesting though ;)
https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6268683/tommys-tax-app-a...

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Replying to CJaneH:
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By hfiddes
09th Jul 2021 11:32

oops froze and got posted twice.

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