By Guy Clapperton

This month we’ve been talking about backup already and a number of people will have noted that I did some backing up to my mobile phone. Does this mean, you might ask, that I can get the tax man to stump up a contribution towards the device? Well, since it has an obvious business use the answer is yes of course, but there are other widgets that can double up as business and social devices too.

Take iPods, which are fashionable as I write but which are bound to go out of style anytime now due to the rate at which technology dates. No matter, let’s assume they stay that way; I have a lot of music on mine but also, and here comes the clever bit, by using it as a hard drive as well as a music player I’ve got the text so far of a book I’m editing on it. This is my idea of clever because it allows me to claim there is some legitimate business use for the thing.

Large-scale monitors and other display items are another item for which there can be some justification as a business tool. Of course you need a big screen for presentations to the board and clients, that goes without saying, and I needed my projector and roll-up screen for my training activities. You attach a laptop, you have your display. What the tax office didn’t need to worry about was that the laptop was perfectly capable of playing DVDs and with the right software added it could have shown TV as well. That makes it a nifty home cinema as well as a presentation device.

Before we get too carried away we should acknowledge that the crossover devices are always going to be in the minority. HMRC will happily chip in for your car and petrol mileage as long as it’s work related; they can check up, though, to see that you’re not doing a single annual journey to your accountant and using it to ferry the family around the rest of the time (in which case they’d reasonably consider it a private car). Unless you’re in broadcasting there is no business justification for buying the latest iteration of high-def TVs and an HD DVD or Blue-Ray player to go with it — you’d need to be a genius to think of one.

Nevertheless, if you’re self-employed or a business owner there’s a good chance that a music player/storage device, display/telly and possibly a work-related car will find some use over the weekend as well as during working hours. Nobody, particularly in the Revenue, should be at all worried.

Just don’t tell them who told you.

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