Taxation of employee expenses
26 February 2018
If your employee has a meeting away from their normal workplace and they pass their workplace en route to the meeting, do they claim the mileage from home to the meeting or just from their workplace to the meeting?
This was the question we asked through our website quick poll during the second half of January and the first half of February. We received 956 responses in total: 77% said they claim from the workplace to the meeting, 21% said they claim from home to the meeting and the remaining 2% do not claim at all.
HMRC’s policy used to be that if the employee passed their normal workplace to go to a meeting then they could only claim the business mileage from the workplace and not from home.
HMRC rules changed so that as long as the employee didn’t go into the workplace and do work en route to the meeting, (they can pick up work papers etc.) then the whole journey is viewed as business mileage.
An excerpt from the 490 Employee travel - tax and NICs guide for employers, confirms this:
Passing work on the way to somewhere else
An employee may pass a permanent workplace on the way to or from a temporary workplace. If the employee stops and performs substantive duties at the permanent workplace then there are 2 journeys – ordinary commuting between home and the permanent workplace and a business journey between the permanent workplace and the temporary workplace. Tax relief will be available for the cost of the second of these journeys – but not the first.
Where the employee does not stop at the permanent workplace, or any stop is incidental to the business journey, all of the journey is business travel.
Darren drives each day between his home in Southampton and his office in Winchester. One day he has to travel on business to Birmingham and back. He drives directly from home to Birmingham but stops off at his office to pick up some papers. His stop is incidental to his business journey. His business journey is from his home in Southampton to Birmingham and back. Tax relief is available for the cost of his journey from his home to Birmingham and back.
Andrew drives each day between his home in Gloucester and his office in Bristol. One day he is required to attend a training event in Bath. Rather than travelling directly to Bath from his home he has to stop off at his office in Bristol to take part in a telephone conference about a project he has been working on. After the telephone conference has finished he drives to the training event in Bath. As Andrew has stopped off at his workplace to carry out substantive duties on the way to the training event in Bath the first part of his journey between home and Bristol is ordinary commuting. Tax relief is available for the cost of his journey from Bristol to Bath, and from Bath back to his home address as this is travel to a temporary workplace.
It was identified by one of our members that HMRC’s EIM (Employment Income Manual) does not reflect the guidance in the 490. We contacted HMRC about the inconsistencies in their guidance and we have been assured that they will be looking into this as part of their work to improve guidance on expenses.
(The government did announce at Autumn Budget 2017 that it will work with external stakeholders to explore possible improvements to the guidance on employee expenses, particularly on travel and subsistence, and the process for claiming tax relief on non-reimbursed expenses.)
Please do keep feeding back to policy any inconsistencies or issues you may find with guidance.