BBC News Reader At The Tax Tribunal

Ray Stewart Business, Tax Matters Leave a Comment

The recently published decision by the Tax Tribunal went against the taxpayer despite her threat to read the news totally naked if the decision went against her!

Will it happen?  I doubt it.  This was part of the defence that BBC news presenter Sian Williams made in her battle to have her expenses for clothes, hair and laundry allowed against her BBC income.

[private_basic]The amounts involved are:-

Professional hairdo and colouring      £975
Professional clothing for studio       £3,231
Laundry of professional clothes         £325

The key part of the case is that Sian Williams was an employee of the BBC at the time and as such the case was bound to fail.  There is no allowance in our archaic tax laws that give duality of use (professional and private use) of clothing used by employees at work – unless they have to wear a uniform of some kind such as the Police and Paramedics.

Ms Williams was quoted as saying she would “happily read the news naked” if the case didn’t go her way – over to you Sian!

The simple fact is that she was poorly advised and she perhaps realized this as she did not attend the Tribunal hearing in person.  There are some expenses that employees can incur and get relief against their PAYE income but clothing, laundry and hairdo’s do not qualify.  This is basic tax knowledge and her accountant should be stood against the wall and shot.  Use of your own car for work – yes.  Some professional subscriptions – yes.  Office equipment and supplies used for employer’s benefit – yes.  Travel and accommodation on employer’s business – yes…etc…

The Tax Tribunal contended that it is a basic human need to cover the body which has to be satisifed whether we are at work or not – although there are some members of society who will probably contend this!

The rules are slightly different for people who are self employed but are rigid for employees and backed up by case law going back into history so the whole appeal to the Tribunal and all the costs associated with it were a huge waste of public money and substantial loss of face for the accountant involved.

An interesting question is… does Gordon Brown et al have a clothing allowance?  I bet MP’s claim for their laundry, hairdos and clothing whilst they are in London on business.   It is a shame they don’t adopt the Williams view and decide to do their work naked to save public money.  It might make watching them at work just a little more interesting!


Ray Stewart
I am a qualified Certified Practising Accountant having passed my final exams way back in 1981. I actually can’t believe that was 37 years ago!! Anyway, I am now in my 60’s and I have been running my own business since May 1983. And before you ask, no, I have never regretted a moment of it! Part of the membership requirements of my professional body now dictate that I spend quite a lot of time on “CPD” - continuing professional education (one of their better ideas) - and over the last two years I decided to study business growth and marketing. I have learnt such a lot and that knowledge has radically changed my old “accountants” approach to business. It has made such a difference to the way I work and operate I feel that I just have to pass on this knowledge. It is simply too powerful to hold back!! - but I will try and do it in simple terms rather than expecting you to spend hours, as I had to, working through the difficult language that trainers seem to use to pass on their concepts. I hope you find the blog a useful resource and interesting place to visit as the months pass. I will do my best to keep up the flow - but if there are any topics you would like me to cover, then please let me know. Ray Stewart
Ray Stewart
Ray Stewart

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