What Can I Claim For?

We’ve all met that person down the pub who tells us, with confidence, that you can put practically everything against tax – from your work clothing to your summer holiday (as they encourage you to believe you can easily call a casual chat with somebody by the pool a business meeting).

There are certainly expenses related to your business which are completely allowable and these generally relate to the cost of running your business. But, there are also other expenses which are more of a grey area.

You can claim allowable expenses if you need to travel – but that trip should primarily be for business (so certainly not your family holiday). These could be costs including your accommodation, and fares for trains and air travel etc.

Sometimes though, it is feasible that might end up combining work with pleasure but you must be able to split those costs and only claim for the business-related part of your trip.

If you use your car to make a business trip, then it usually makes sense to use the simplified expenses of 45p per mile. This is set by the Government and is a figure calculated to cover the costs of running your vehicle, including fuel and servicing etc. On top of this, you can claim for any additional parking, as well as any congestion and low-emission zone charges. However, you can’t claim the tax back on any fines you incur while driving for work, such as parking tickets or speeding fines.

The food and drink you consume while outside your usual working day routine, such as on a work-related trip, can be claimed back. But, you can’t include your daily sandwich at your desk or your regular takeaway coffee.

Another slightly grey area is clothing. While you might feel that your role requires you to wear smart attire – such as a suit – you can really only claim for a dedicated uniform or special protective clothing. In some cases, safety clothing, such as steel toe capped boots, are required and you might not be allowed onto a building site, for example, without them. If you need to launder or specially clean your uniform, you can claim back the cost of that.

Interestingly, if you’re an entertainer and need a costume to play your part, that can be put against tax. In a recent blog –
https://www.lewisandco.biz/working-with-creative-industries/ – we told you how we support a number of clients in the creative industries, so this is a conversation we’ve had before.

What you can claim back really depends on your particular job role. For example, if you are required to sit in front of a screen all day and need particular glasses or contact lenses to see clearly and without eye strain, then you should be able to claim for those costs. That is slightly open to interpretation though.

As a sole trader, you might hire a work space or small office and then it’s fairly easy to claim the expenses involved with that. It is likely though that you might have a dedicated space at home to work and then it becomes more tricky. You obviously can’t claim back all the expenses of running your home, although you can claim tax back on a proportion of those costs – which include your services, rent or mortgage cost and council tax etc. Here at Lewis & Co, we can help you to work out what proportion you can claim.

If you have a phone number which is purely for your business, then it is straightforward to work out what you can claim back. However, if you use your phone for personal use as well, you’ll need a way to divide the cost; and the same applies to your internet usage.

When it comes to office equipment and stationery, as long as they are purely purchased for your business use, then you can put these against tax. For many small businesses, this is particularly useful when it comes to the cost of printer ink – which, for many office-based business-owners, is now one of their largest expenses!

You can, of course, come to us with any questions. And, it’s worth bearing in mind that, if you use the services of Lewis & Co or any other professional firm, such as a law firm, that you claim tax back on our fees. Call us on 01892 513515 to find out more.