Business Journeys – Can you claim tax relief on your travel expenses?

A number of self-employed businesses have been waiting for a tax case to be decided which turned on the question of “what is a business journey?” The test case concerned a doctor who was both employed by the NHS and self-employed as a private consultant.

The Upper Tax Tribunal decided that the doctor’s self-employed work started when he arrived at his private clinic, so the travel between his home and the clinic was not a business journey. This was in spite of the fact the doctor had an office at his home where he prepared his treatment plans.

So what does this mean for you as a self-employed person who travels to various sites to work? The taxman will argue that your work only starts when you reach your customer’s site and any business activity performed at your home-office is irrelevant. This would restrict your allowable travel costs to journeys between customers and deny a deduction for travelling from your home to the first customer of the day.

The key is determining where your “place of business” is located, and whether the activity undertaken at the home-office is wholly and exclusively undertaken for the purpose of your business. As ever it will come down to the evidence you can produce.

Can you show that the activities you perform at your home must be performed at that location? For example: contacting suppliers, drawing up quotes, or scrutinising plans. Also can you provide evidence of the time you spend working exclusively on your business at your home, perhaps by records in your business diary?

We can help you record the details the taxman will want to see in order to prove you do start work at home, and not when you reach your first customer of the day.

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