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Self-Employed Travel Expenses

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Newsletter issue - March 2013.

If you are self-employed you may have a number of customers you go to regularly to work at their premises. This could apply to mobile hairdressers, cleaners, gardeners, and even medical professionals who work at private clinics. The miles you drive to reach each of your customers from your business base are used to calculate the amount of travel expenses you claim in your business accounts.

This is all good, but the Taxman has recently argued in a tax case that where the business is based at the person's home, that home-office can't be treated as the starting point for travel when the work is performed almost entirely at customers' properties. The Taxman has particularly challenged travel expenses claimed by doctors who work at private clinics and do not see patients at their home-office. The Taxman has tried to ignore the necessary preparation and report writing work the doctor has to perform at his home-office.

The Taxman has agreed that travel between customers is allowable, so the mobile hairdresser or cleaner who travels to several customers each day should be able to claim the majority of their travel expenses. However, travel from the home-office to say one private clinic and back home again is in question.

This doesn't mean you should stop claiming the cost of travelling to customers, but to head-off any challenge in the future, you should record every business related journey; where it started, number of miles and the reason for the journey - who were you seeing. Using an estimate of your total business mileage for the year is no longer an acceptable method of calculating your travel expenses. You should also record what part of your business you conduct at your home-office, such as preparing estimates or writing reports.

If you are concerned you may be affected, please contact us for advice.