Travel Expenses – Are they allowable?

As an employee who has to make journeys for business purposes, what expenses can you claim?

Assuming you are not being reimbursed by either your employer, supplier or customer you can deduct your travelling expenses from your taxable income.  There are no restrictions on the standard of travel and accommodation, provided the expenses are wholly and exclusively for business purposes.

If the trip includes an element of pleasure, you will need to apportion the costs and only claim for the business element.

HMRC definition of business journeys

Business journeys are defined as part of your requirement to travel from one workplace to another, this includes travelling between your main, permanent workplace and a temporary workplace.  It does not include ‘ordinary commuting’, ie when you travel between your home and a place which counts as a permanent workplace.

The cost of business travel includes:

  • the cost of any necessary subsistence costs incurred in the course of the journey;
  • the cost of meals necessarily purchased whilst an employee is at a temporary workplace.
  • the cost of overnight accommodation and any necessary meals, even where an employee stays away for some time

In summary, tax relief can be claimed on:

  • public transport fares
  • hotel accommodation
  • meals
  • tolls/congestion charges
  • parking fees

But, what about….

  • Alcohol – a few drinks with your meal will be fine, but other than when dining they would generally be considered a personal expense
  • Family – if you are accompanied by members of your family their costs are not allowed for tax relief unless they are on the trip for a business reason
  • Incidentals (newspapers; laundry; phone calls home) – HMRC allow claims up to £5 per night in the UK and £10 per night outside the UK

Think before you claim to avoid scrutiny by HMRC.

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