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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

Recalculating Profits: Private Expenditure: Taxpayer's Spending - Optional


  • how many a year
  • travel
  • accommodation
  • spending money


  • to and from work
  • car(s): cost, insurance, repairs and servicing, tax, AA/RAC, petrol (including family cars)
  • motor bicycles
  • bicycles
  • driving lessons
  • caravans or trailer tents

Leisure activities

  • electrical equipment - Computers, TV, radio, music systems, camcorders, video recorders, cameras, personal stereos, (plus tapes, cassettes, compacts discs, DVDs and records)
  • internet use including broadband charges
  • purchase of mobile phones and phone running costs
  • musical instruments
  • social drinking
  • theatre
  • cinema
  • clubs
  • evening classes
  • hobbies
  • sporting activities: viewing or participating
  • photography
  • books
  • gambling (including attendance at horse/dog races), bingo
  • football pools, lotteries
  • animals (including horse ownership) and pet insurance/vet bills


  • clothes
  • computer games
  • nursery equipment, nursery costs and childminding
  • schooling - fees, uniform, trips, extra tuition, voluntary contributions towards cost of school outings
  • pocket money
  • birthdays (especially the ‘big’ ones: 18/21)
  • weddings
  • contribution to further education costs (university, college etc)
  • personal, holiday, transport and leisure costs as above
  • examination successes.

You should not adopt a routine approach, some categories may not be relevant whilst others may require more detail. There is a great range of personal and private expenditure. A single oversight, multiplied by the number of years over which the enquiry extends, can result in the final settlement being substantially less than it ought to have been.

Items which can get missed or minimised are those marginal ones known only to the taxpayer and those residual items of day to day expenditure which, although frequently too trivial to be remembered, yield a yearly total which is far from negligible.

Careful consideration of personal and private expenditure on the general lines indicated above, should enable you to identify and correct an inadequate figure put forward by the taxpayer. You can eliminate, step by step, expenditure the taxpayer has identified leaving some quite inadequate figure for other expenditure that must have been incurred.

Where, moreover, it is the taxpayer’s practice to meet a substantial part of his or her normal private and domestic expenditure by cheque, and the bank accounts have been analyzed to show such payments, a consideration of the expenditure by categories can give an indication of what must have been met by cash (or, for example, by cheques drawn on an undisclosed account).