It’s standard practice to go through all your expenses and whittle them down. ” and “You need to make a bigger deduction for personal use!

In the end it took nine months, two interviews and more time than I care to think about to come to a conclusion over this simple issue: claiming a single £10 book as an expense.

they only need to show that the income you have declared doesn’t support your lifestyle.

HMRC love your private statements because they may show business money illegally entering your personal account and it will also give them a picture of your spending habits and lifestyle.

They can go through and ask where money was coming from or going to – they’ll be particularly interested in cash entering the account.

Unfortunately for them I was aeroplane spotting with my four-year-old, but they simply didn’t believe that. The official HMRC line is clear, they tell their investigators that if they open a case and there is nothing significantly wrong it should be closed.

Here is the exact wording in the HMRC manual: “You should never press-on solely to obtain a trivial adjustment so you can say the case was not settled for nil.”But in reality HMRC investigators don’t like to close cases without a result, so they will spend months asking for more and more documents and they will invite you in for more and more meetings to increase the pressure – and your costs.

Once they can do that they will add penalties and interest too.

If you are in the right you need to stick to your guns and hold on to your legitimate expenses.

• Offer to log your outgoings over the next 30 days then use that data to calculate your living costs – this will give everybody a much more accurate picture of your day-to-day expenditure.