Did you have a reasonable excuse for failing to attempt our seasonal quiz? If not, we will suspend the penalty and let your off provided that you comply next year. Here are the answers. Congratulations to the winner and runner up!


1 What did the government decide to abolish in April 2018, then to abolish in April 2019, and then decided not to abolish at all?

Answer: Class 2 NICs

2 On 6 September 2018, a government department stated that in the last 12 months it had acquired three jockey helmets, a drum kit, half a sofa, torso mannequins, a set of golf clubs, a bathroom toilet with seat, and a copy of Louis Wain’s Book of Illustrated Cats from the 1920s. In respect of what tax offence were these items acquired?

Answer: Not paying vehicle excise duty. They were found in seized cars.

3 What tax change did the Chancellor announce in his October 2018 Budget by saying, “local authorities can at last relieve themselves”?

Answer: Business rates on public lavatories.

4 Nesquik is a milkshake powder available in banana, chocolate and strawberry flavours. Which one was held by a tribunal this year to be zero-rated for VAT as a food product?

Answer: Chocolate. It was held to be similar to cocoa.

5 What product did a tribunal decide was zero-rated when sold for baking but standard-rated when sold for cleaning?

Answer: Bicarbonate of soda

6 Which US state allows its taxes to be paid in bitcoin?

Answer: Ohio

7 What was counted as a reasonable excuse for a late filing failure, and then was not, and then was, and then was not, and now we are none the wiser? For an extra point: what was the tax that was supposed to be reported?

Answer: Reliance on the fact that a conveyancing lawyer might point out that a new tax return was required. Non-Resident CGT.

8 What was the trading activity of Sally Morgan Enterprises which went into liquidation this summer because of an unforeseen tax liability of almost £3 million?

Answer: It holds psychic sessions to predict the future

9 How was PWC accountant Max Livingstone-Learmonth dressed when he caught a thief near London Bridge this summer?

Answer: A bishop. He was taking part in a fancy dress relay race.

10 HMRC published guidance on STAR this year. What is STAR?

Answer: Serial tax avoidance regulations

11 A statutory instrument provided us with a 933-word definition of “vegetable juice”. In relation to which tax?

Answer: Soft drinks industry levy

12 In July 2018, HMRC said it takes an average of 4 minutes and 28 seconds to do what?

Answer: Answer a telephone call

13 What was the occupation of Peter Moss who cheated HMRC out of £138,500? He said he did not realise that tax fraud was illegal.

Answer: Barrister

14 Glynn Edwards died on 23 May 2018. He played Dave, the barman, in The Minder who often asked Arthur Daley if he wanted a VAT. What did he mean?

Answer: Vodka and tonic

15 In which country did the minister of culture and sport hold office for just six days before resigning because of tax evasion?

Answer: Spain. (His name is Maxim Huerta)

16 What gained raspberries, high chairs and exercise leggings, but lost pork pies, leg waxing, peaches, and bottles of lager at a night club?

Answer: Retail prices index

17 What activity forced Keaton Jennings to miss sitting his accountancy exam in June.?

Answer: He was playing cricket for England in a test match against Pakistan

18 Which comic actor who died in 2018, retired from professional acting only to return in 1962 because of tax? He appeared in Heartbeat and Carry On films.

Answer: Bill Maynard. (He was Claude Greengrass in Heartbeat)

19 In April 2018, what occupation became extinct when the country’s last practitioner lost his licence? In a Monty Python sketch of 1971, a tax accountant said he wanted to follow this occupation but was held to be too boring to be anything but an accountant.

Answer: Lion tamer. (The last one was Thomas Chipperfield.)

20 Which now deceased comedian said, “I told the Inland Revenue that I didn’t owe them a penny because I lived near the seaside”?

Answer: Sir Ken Dodd.