9 MPs have been claiming Amazon Prime subs as expenses. Can you?

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MP’s expenses are once more in the news, it turns out that 9 of them have popped their Amazon Prime subscription onto their expense claim so that the tax payer can pick up the bill.

Some have asserted that it was a mistake and that they fell into the trap of a free trial to save the tax payer the postage cost and then ended up paying the annual subscription. This is a timely excuse as the Chancellor popped a clause into last week’s Spring Budget 2017 which states a Green Paper will be “Developing proposals to protect consumers from facing unexpected payments when a subscription is renewed or when a free trial ends“.

One MP has gone on the record as saying “With the opening of my constituency offices, on a number of occasions equipment was ordered through prime membership offering longitudinal savings on timeous delivery costs.” Others have declined to comment.

Of course the savings from Amazon Prime make sense for a business (or an MP) and could be classified as a business expense if you wholly (or mainly at the time of subscribing) use the service in the course of your business. Perhaps you regularly order supplies from Amazon and Prime represents a saving over and above the cost you’d pay on carriage for each individual order. If you then watch a few movies and The Grand Tour it’s technically not costing you anything but is hard to split the cost between business use and private use.

It’s very similar to paying for an unlimited calls mobile phone contract which you need for your business and then make private calls on the same mobile. In this case the simplest way if you have a limited company is to take the mobile contract out in the company name, in which case you’re allowed to make personal calls without there being a taxable benefit. If the phone is a personal contract it’s still a taxable benefit even if used solely for business. Plus you can’t even claim for the cost of business calls if you’re on an unlimited contract as they’ll have zero cost so there is nothing to claim.

If you’re a sole trader then you need to work out the split between business and personal calls (perhaps over a sample three month period) and claim on your tax return accordingly. This is pretty much also what you should do with Amazon Prime if you use it for both business and personal use, although if you use it for business deliveries and then watch a couple of movies it’s going to be pretty tricky to work out the split. Are there any accountants out there who know the answer?

2 Responses

  1. if you cant manage to un-subscribe from what is, in my opinion, one of the easiest and well reminded un-subscriptions i’ve ever seen, you really shouldnt be in a position of power like an MP, something significantly more important than remembering to cancel prime with ~7 reminder emails, is going to come up sooner or later, and obviously you’re not up to that.

    not surprised the MP’s are trying to shaft expenses again, they’ll never quit, they shouldnt get expenses as far as i’m concerned, if 74k isnt enough for you to get to work and back, go drive a bus or something instead. and dont be shouting about “we need the best and brightest”, these people cant cancel an amazon prime subscription in time, they clearly are not the best or brightest.

  2. I run my business as a limited company (I’m genuinely freelance, working often for ten different clients in any given week).

    My personal credit card pays for my Prime membership, which is attached to my personal Amazon account.

    It just so happens that you can share a Prime account with “another person”, or in my case, the separate Amazon account that is attached to my business debit card and business email address.

    At the end of the tax year I suppose I could clock up the number of orders each account had made, calculate a delivery fee for each order and expense the business proportion. For the sake of an absolute maximum of £15.80 in overpaid Corporation Tax I don’t know whether I can bothered!


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