Spies are tax-deductible

TS had no idea spying was a tax-deductible expense.

So when the news broke that the McLaren Formula One team successfully argued at a tribunal that the £34m fine it received for engaging in espionage in 2007 was tax-deductible, we reacted with a heady mix of shock and stunned amusement.

The team was put on the naughty step in 2007 after the Fédération Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA) found it had “possessed and in some way used proprietary information belonging to Ferrari, and had thereby breached the rules of the FIA’s International sporting code”. Spying, to you and me.

In fact, the whistle was blown when a worker at a photocopying business was asked to copy an 800-page document detailing technical specifications of Ferrari’s cars by someone at McLaren. The worker told the – presumably furious – people at Ferrari and heads duly rolled.

To be honest, TS imagined it would end there, but some bright spark at McLaren thought it’d be worth bringing the case to the tax tribunals.

To the astonishment of TS, the tribunal decided the fine was a business expense as it was not a fine for breaking the law, and therefore tax-deductible.

TS wonders whether the parking tickets we’ve been racking up could qualify under the same argument.

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