WeWork last week announced that they are banning meat from their employee expenses policy, and while this might seem bizarre to some, many will see this as a progressive expenses policy that is moving with the times.
This however made us think about expense claims that should never been submitted (aka used Google) and we found a host of strange expense claims and other HMRC related excuses, (that we've also included for good measure.)
We’ll start with our favourite reasons for not filing tax returns.
1) 'I couldn't file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won't let me enter the house'. An excuse even Mulder and Scully would find hard to believe.
2) Though you could say that 'having an argument with your wife and moving to Italy for 5 years' tops it as an excuse.
3) That said, saying “My tax return was on my yacht… which caught fire” is certainly up there.
Moving on to our favourite expense claims
4) Someone put £4.50 for sausage and chips as meal expenses for a whopping 250 days. There’s fussy eating and then there’s fussy eating.
5) Few will be surprised that 'buying a three-piece suite for your partner to sit on when your doing your accounts' is a big no no, but they still tried to expense it. It's fair to say that HMRC were far from comfortable with that claim.
6) Animals and vet care are high on the list general bizarre expenses no nos. That said, Bill the boa constrictor who was initially queried by the tax man, was actually accepted after the dancer explained he was part of her act. We'll leave your imagination to fill in the gaps.
7) 'Luxury watches as Christmas gifts for staff from a company with no employees' didn't escape the long arm of the law.
8) Expensing the cost of 'regular Friday night “bonding sessions” that runs into thousands of pounds' sounds a lot like after work trips to the pub, and that’s because it probably was.
9) There’s lots of jobs out there that require specialist clothing to do the job, but Armani jeans as protective clothing for a painter and decorator is perhaps a not what HMRC had in mind.
So yes WeWork banning meat to be more socially responsible and thoughtful about their impact on the environment might be seen as a bit corporate nanny state, but expenses policies are there for a reason. Not only to reflect what is legally allowed, but also support the beliefs and wider goals of an organisation.
That said, enforcing expenses policies can be a serious problem for businesses, our recent Expenses Economy research found that 41% of employees would flout or work around company's expense policy in some way if there was the opportunity.
You can have the best expenses policy in the world, but if you don't have the right tools to police them, you'll still get strange expense claims and end of the month surprises. That's why hundreds of businesses are using Expend's expenses solution to help make expenses awesome and super easy to manage. Looking for more control? Read our blog post on why our Expend card is better than a standard company card.
Interested in the state of the UK Expenses Economy? Download our Free report.