Springfords LLP blog

Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

You can't park that here

29 April 2016

You can’t claim that parking penalty charge either, as a well-known courier company has just found out to their cost.

Every prisoner-in-transit’s favourite integrated security conglomerate, G4S, broke the internet recently with their query to HMRC, which might be paraphrased as: “parking fines, they’re ok for expenses, right?”

Dear G4S, where do we start?  Thing is, the clue is in the title: “fines”. 

Leaving aside the minefield of usurious private parking charges levied in supermarket car parks, genuine parking fines of the ‘double-yellow-line-got-clamped-and-towed-away-and-was-seconds-from-having-the-van-crushed-to-a-cube-of-metal-like-in-Goldfinger’ variety are not a legitimate tax deductible expense.

Don’t take our word for it though.  Tabloids like the Daily Mail and The Sun, and every other publication, broadcaster and blogger who can spell schadenfreude, took great delight in reporting that an independent tax tribunal judge finally ruled against the company and their contention that racking up over half a million pounds in parking fines was an entirely necessary business expense and should be offset again their tax bill.

Reportedly, the judges ruling says that G4S staff consciously and deliberately decided to break parking restrictions for commercial gain.

Now, we can all sympathise with the cost of parking these days, especially if your client happens to be the High Court or Strangeways prison - both in permit holders only parking locations. 

Sometimes we think it would be cheaper to keep going than it is to stop, and maybe with the coming of the autonomous car that’s an option.  You get the car down to walking pace, jump out, and let the autopilot cruise around the streets until you’re done for the day.  We’re just observing, not advocating.

This may not be an option however if your job is to collect large bundles of cash and ferry around the latest batch of extras from Orange is the New Black.  Preferably not in the same vehicle of course. 

Parking in a meter bay, with the engine running, outside a courtroom or bank, no matter what’s painted on the side of the van, is likely to attract the attention of even the most tardy of traffic wardens.

We don’t know how many parking attendants were called to give evidence at the tribunal.  What we do know is that fines in general come under the heading ‘breaking the law’.  The tax book may be complicated, but it’s pretty plain when your business strays over into areas which are against the law.

So, whether you’re a butcher, baker, candlestick maker - or a multi-national security firm just stopping for a minute to drop off some old lags at the nick - if you get a yellow ticket for being on a yellow line, you can’t expect to offset the costs as a business expense against your tax liabilities. 

Now, where have those prisoners in transit gone, and has anyone seen the cashbox?

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springfords blog

Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

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