Food and accommodation
Written by Ray Coman
In general, as food and shelter are required to live, they are not considered to be a business cost. However subsistence, or the reasonable costs of meals and accommodation while away on business travel, can be deducted from taxable profits. Subsistence costs will only be allowable where related to business travel, and not over-the-top.
The rules relating to subsistence also apply to overseas travel. In almost all cases, travel to an overseas workplace will not also be commuting. Therefore, food and accommodation on an overseas work trip will be tax deductible. Tax deductible overseas expenses are limited to those related to business travel and are not extended to the taxpayers' family.
Business travel excludes private journeying and ordinary commuting. Commuting is a journey that ends up at a permanent workplace.
Given that the morning and evening meal are eaten at home, lunch is the most common meal on which tax relief is obtained. A tax deduction for other meals is usually only possible where staying away from home overnight.
I spend more on food because my job is physically demanding, can the extra costs be regarded as tax deductible?
There is no tax deduction for food even where a taxpayer has to eat more in order to discharge the duties of work.
It is not possible to use estimates. However, HMRC have published rates that can be used for subsistence, based on the destination country. Use of these rates simplifies tax relief for the employer.
I travel from place to place where the work takes me, can I deduct the cost of accommodation for tax purposes?
In this case the cost of accommodation has not increased as a result of moving around. The accommodation provides a secondary purpose of being a shelter. The costs will only be tax deductible where the employee has another permanent home, available to live in at the same time.
The cost of travel to and from a temporary workplace is tax deductible. Therefore, travel costs could be tax deductible even though accommodation costs are not.
I have been seconded to the UK for a post that last less than 24 months, can I deduct the cost of accommodation?
In this case it is possible to deduct subsistence. The reasons is that employee is not itinerant and that the workplace is for a limited duration (i.e. less than 24 months.) Accommodation costs can be deducted even if the worker not have another home while living in the UK.