Thursday, 19 March 2009

A guy down the pub told me... and other fairy/horror stories... Part 1

Its one of those phone calls that every accountant dreads. Its 9.05am. The computers booted up and the screen is full of last nights e-mails and twits. (That's twits as in Twitter, not twits as in stupid e-mails... although...). You're on the 6Th cup of double espresso trying to remember if its Wednesday or Thursday (it will later turn out to be Tuesday!). The phone rings.

"Hello, good morning AT Accounting how may I help you?" (OK its often "Grunt")
"Hi Andy I was talking to a guy down the pub/club/library/burger bar/other place no one would actually go to find an accountant. And he told me....."

Whatever words that come out of the clients lips next will always be either:

a) Wrong on a fundamental level
b) Highly illegal
c) Both

Often the advice comes from some half remembered news story. A recent example is of a client who works from home. He also has a pet dog. Now its not the biggest dog in the world, and is best described as a big lovable bundle of fluff. So when my client informed me that the dog was now officially his guard dog and therefore all his food and vets bills were all tax deductible and could I therefore change his tax return, I had to pause long enough to stifle a laugh.

I politely asked what would happen if a tax inspector came round to view the guard dog? Would he maybe attack the Inspector? Or lollop up to him and sniff his jacket pocket for biscuits? If the later and the Inspector was not scared of dogs in general then it was highly unlikely that any deduction would be allowed.

Yes guard dogs are tax allowable. Yes potentially you could argue that a family pet could also be a guard dog and apportion some expenses. But not all dogs are guard dogs.

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