Friday, 28 August 2009

"Can I claim the cost of food when I'm at work?"

There's been a change in the rules about what self-employed people can claim for the cost of food and drink when they're out and about on business.

The rules are different depending on whether you're employed or self-employed. In this article I'm going to talk about the rules for self-employed people. Be careful - if you're employed by your own limited company, you're an employee!

Nichola Ross Martin publishes excellent guides for both employed and self-employed people on her website here. The one for self-employed people is particularly helpful as it uses several different home-based businesses as examples (freelance lecturer, jobbing gardener, accountant). I'd highly recommend buying a copy.

Here's a quick summary of the new rules.

Before 6th April 2009, HM Revenue wouldn't normally let self-employed people claim the cost of food and drink when they were out and about on business, on the basis that "well you'd have to eat anyway". The only exception was if you were staying away from home overnight on business.

After 6th April 2009, the rules have changed, by statute. If you're self-employed and either;
  • in a travelling occupation (e.g. long-distance lorry driver), or;
  • making a journey for work that is only occasional, or not part of your normal pattern of business, or;
  • staying away from home overnight on business,
then as long as you have the receipts to support the expense, you can claim for the cost of any food and drink you bought for yourself while you were travelling.

You can't claim any estimates or round-sum allowances for food and drink. Round-sum allowances apply only for employees.

More information is available via Nichola's website. Thanks to Nichola for allowing me to post this summary.

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