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bigduckontax, Accountant
Category: Tax
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Hi. I am a self employed public service interpreter. On occasions

Customer Question

Hi. I am a self employed public service interpreter. On occasions in case where I had been interpreting I am cited to courts as a witness. For my attendance I am paid witness expenses. Is it a taxable income?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  bigduckontax replied 4 years ago.
Hello, I'm Keith and happy to help you with your question. In a word, no!

Here is the Government advice [edited] on the subject:

'2. Expenses for going to court

You can claim for expenses for going to court to give evidence:

travelling expenses - the standard or 2nd class fare, or 25p per mile if you drive

meals and refreshments - £2.25 for up to 5 hours, or £4.50 for 5 to 10 hours

loss of earnings - £33.50 for up to 4 hours, or £67 for longer (£42.95 or £85.90 if you’re self-employed)

child care - £67 per day

Ask your solicitor or a court official for an expenses form when you go to court.'

The Government release clearly states that these are expenses for attending court. They are analogous to an employer's refund of individual's travelling and subsistence expenses. The refund of such expenses is outside the scope of tax.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your quick reply. I would like to clarify the answer with you. I am an interpreter who whenever is required to give evidence for the prosecution in courts claims expenses back. On I found the following information :

"Loss of earnings – self-employed persons (Ordinary Witnesses only)
The maximum amount of earnings lost that may be repaid is:

 For an absence from work not exceeding 4 hours £42.95
 For an absence from work exceeding 4 hours £85.90

Payments to compensate for temporary loss of profits are taxable as receipts of a business"

I do not fall into the category of an ordinary witness and I am not based in England. The COFPS is the prosecuting body in Scotland where I live, however, I can not find any relevant information on their website. Does the information underlined by me not mean that part of the witness payment is a taxable income?

Expert:  bigduckontax replied 4 years ago.
That is most interesting. I had accessed the government web site to check if the loss of earnings element was taxable and it was silent on the matter. Something to remember, thank you.

As far as I am aware the Crown Office through its agents the Procurators Fiscal are responsible for prosecutions in Scotland. Indeed my first wife'e uncle was the Crown Agent! The acronym COFPS returns 'no trace' so just to put my mind at rest what does it stand for, please?

Tax is universal across the UK at the moment though mutterings of some devolution in this area to Scotland rattle about! From the site it would indeed appear that the loss of earnings element only of your claims would be taxable although the wording is very bad. It might be a good idea to write a letter to your tax office to enquire. Don't bother to try to phone, an exercise in administrative futility!

By the by although I am answering this from New York where I am on holiday I normally live in Scotland.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I meant the COPFS, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. I am sorry for the typo.


It is interesting indeed. As you said in your earlier message payment to a witness compensate for travelling and subsistence expenses as well as loss of earnings. The staff at the Crown Office make all calculations and I later receive a cheque at home. If the loss of earnings is the only taxable element I am unable to calculate what percentage of the payment should go towards the taxable income.


I am definitely going to enquire about it at the local tax office. However, by tomorrow I have to send my on-line tax return for 2012-2013 and I am unsure if I should include the income on my tax return form. What do you recommend I do?

I hope you have a good time in New York.

Expert:  bigduckontax replied 4 years ago.

In my view it is a allowance and outside the scope of tax as I said earlier save for the loss of earnings. I would be inclined, as you can't identify that element to omit it, but write a letter to the tax office seeking guidance. It is cold in NYC, snow on the ground for over a fortnight and no sign of it going.