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The 12 tax days of Christmas

Just spotted a wonderful topical piece on The article contains a series of inventive and fiscally accurate explanations offered by Emily Coltman of FreeAgent as she analyses the tax consequences of every one of the gifts mentioned in the classic song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.

Emily imagines that the minstrel, whose "true love" gave all these gifts, needs help completing a tax return. What, imagines Emily, would be the income tax and VAT rules applicable to the gifts that make up the famous festive menagerie?

What follows is just a sample from some of the explanations. In each case Emily provides rather more detail than is appropriate for this fun blog ;-) 

A partridge in a pear tree This is what HMRC call a “mixed supply” for VAT, because it’s goods with different VAT rates supplied together. The pear tree is zero-rated for VAT, while the partridge, as an ornamental bird, would be standard-rated.  
Three French hens When goods of any kind are brought in from the EU and bought by a business that’s registered for UK VAT, the business has to work out and account for the VAT they would have paid if the item had been bought in the UK. 

Five gold rings If you’re buying an antique gold ring or other piece of second-hand jewellery, how would the seller work out VAT?

Six geese a-laying HMRC goes into a serious level of detail on this. The basic rule of thumb is that poultry kept for their meat or their eggs would be zero-rated for VAT, whereas ornamental birds would be standard-rated.

Eight maids a-milking Milkmaids need to live on the farm in order to be able to do their work properly; in order to do the morning milking they have to get up very early, and so it wouldn’t be practical or possible for them to commute. That means that the farmer can provide the milkmaids with living accommodation free of tax and National Insurance. 

Nine drummers drumming A drummer would have to buy his or her costume to perform in.  That might be a kilt, jacket and plaid for a drummer in a pipe band, or a suit for a jazz band drummer, and so on. He or she can then claim tax relief on the cost of that costume, because a costume for a performer is tax-deductible. 

Twelve lords a-leaping What would be the tax implications if these lords a-leapt out of the country? It depends why they’re a-leaping out and for how long.

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