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What expenses can I claim as a Limited Company Contractor?

What expenses can I claim as a Limited Company Contractor?

This is a question that I am sure Contractors will always ask. Why? Because it changes all the time. Keeping up with HMRC guidelines is a full time job in itself, but luckily for you, you have our help.

This post is brief overview of what expenses a you could claim as a Limited Company Contractor.

As a Limited Company Contractor you are entitled to claim expenses for purchases / costs that have been incurred for the running of your Limited Company. These are commonly known as tax deductible expenses as they reduce the operating profits of your business which will reduce the amount of corporation tax that your company will need to pay.

The majority of expenses that you incur will be paid directly from your businesses bank account; however your Limited Company will reimburse you personally as a director for the expenses that you incur whilst performing the daily duties of your company.

Some of the more common expenses are as follows:

  • Business travel and accommodation
  • Salaries
  • Employer’s N.I. contributions
  • Business telephone calls
  • Mobile telephone and calls
  • Equipment purchased for business purposes
  • Computer software
  • Technical books and journals
  • Certain professional subscriptions
  • Accountancy fees
  • Postage for business
  • Stationery for business
  • Contributions to a pension plan
  • Motoring expenses using fixed rate allowances (e.g. claiming the distance travelled)
  • Use of a home as office
  • Company bank charges and interest

24 Month Rule

As a contractor you are now able to claim main site travel and subsistence expenses subject to a time limit on the period of attendance. Introduced in 1998, this change in legislation stated that as a contractor you are able to claim travel and subsistence expenses whilst attending a contract at a qualifying work place for no more than a 24 month period.

The 24 month rule however is based on the assumption that the contractor knows that the length of the contract will last no more than the stated 24 months. If at any time through the duration of the contract that it is known that the contract will last 24 months or more then you will no longer be able to claim main site expenses through your company.

Where a person moves from workplace to workplace, and doesn’t return to a workplace previously attended, the 24 month rule is reasonably straightforward. However, the legislation has to take into account contractors who return to or keep returning to the same workplace. This happens frequently in the engineering construction industry and is where the ‘40% rule’ comes into play.

40% rule

As a typical PAYE employee you do not qualify to claim main site travel and subsistence expenses when travelling to and from your ordinary place of work. However, as a contractor you may qualify to claim such expenses provided that you satisfy the strict guidelines which are governed by HMRC. These guidelines have been imposed to determine whether your main working site is classified as a temporary place of work.

A temporary place of work is classified as such when an employee / contractor attends said working site for a limited period of time or for what is deemed to be a temporary purpose. As a contractor, your travel and subsistence expenses are potentially claimable if your place of work is, indeed, deemed temporary. This however is determined by the ‘limited duration’ rules that restrict the reimbursement of these expenses.

A temporary place of work ceases to be temporary when, or if, it is intended that the contractor will spend 40% or more of their time on a continuous basis for a period of 24 months or more at their working site. This being the case, the work place will be classed as permanent from which point onwards you, as a contractor, will be unable to claim main site travel and subsistence expenses.

It is important to realise here that the expenses cease to be allowable at the point that you become aware that you will be at the temporary site for 24 months or more, not when you reach 24 months.

“At Quantic we appreciate that this may be a little confusing. This is why your personal accountant will be on hand 6 days a week to guide you through the expenses that you are able to claim through your limited company”.

24 Month Rule

What are claimable expenses?

Knowing what expenses you are able to claim through your limited company is a science in itself and for this reason we have summarised below the typical expenses that you will be able to claim through your limited company.

Business Travel

Travelling whilst conducting business activity is an expense that is eligible for tax relief; this includes travelling to and from your temporary working site and travelling to other working sites on business activity. Tax relief does not usually apply to travelling to and from your normal place of work so it is important that the 24 month rule is enforced at all times.

Depending on how you travel to your temporary working site will determine the amount of tax relief that you are entitled to. A brief summary has been given below:

Road Travel using a personal vehicle:

You are eligible to claim the cost per mile for eligible business travel in your own personal vehicle. Depending on the amount of miles travelled during your company’s financial year will determine the monetary value of your claim. Below is a table which summarises the main travel types using your personal vehicle and the monetary value of eligible claims.

Type of VehicleMotorcarMotorcycle Bicycle
First 10000 Miles45p per mile24p per mile20p per mile
10000 + Miles25p per mile24p per mile

20p per mile

 

It is important that you retain your fuel receipts in support of your mileage claims. If HMRC were to audit your business they may request that these be presented to evidence your claim.

Air or Rail Travel:

The cost of air and rail travel is a claimable expense business provided the journey is in performance of your company’s duties. This cost can either be met personally and then reimbursed by the business or paid directly from the businesses bank account. Where applicable a receipt will need to be retained to evidence the transaction.

Other Allowable Travel Costs:

Whilst travelling on business you may incur additional costs such as toll roads, bus and taxi fares, car parking charges etc. Provided that these costs are incurred whilst performing business activity then these are also eligible for tax relief if accompanied by a supporting receipt.

Other Allowable Travel Costs:

Whilst travelling on business you may incur additional costs such as toll roads, bus and taxi fares, car parking charges etc. Provided that these costs are incurred whilst performing business activity then these are also eligible for tax relief if accompanied by a supporting receipt.

Accommodation

When staying away from home on business duties you may claim the cost of your accommodation provided this is separate from your main dwelling. This cost may be in the form of a hotel, a guest-house, or you may rent a room or flat during the week. As long as this cost is incurred whilst performing your business duties then it will be eligible for tax relief.

Overnight allowance:

When you are away on business you may incur personal costs such as toiletries, telephone calls, newspapers etc. These costs are classed as personal expenditure and are not claimable as tax deductable business expenses; however you are able to claim an un-receipted overnight allowance whilst staying away on business duties.

There are two overnight allowance rates: £5 per night if staying in the UK or £10 per night when you are overseas.

Meals

When working away from home meal claims are an acceptable tax deductible expense. You are eligible to claim either a breakfast or a lunch, and an evening meal. Under the revenues guidelines the cost of these meals must have been incurred after your journey commenced so pre-packed lunches taken from home are not claimable.

IT equipment

IT equipment, peripherals, and business related software is claimable for tax relief through your limited company. This type of expense would fall into one of two categories; hardware or software and other IT costs.

Hardware: the typical freelancer or contractor may claim for desktop or laptop computers, tablet PC’s, or smart phone devices. Depending on the value of these items then they may need to be processed as an asset of the business and paid for directly from the businesses bank account. See Capital Expenditure.

Software and other IT costs: the cost of computer software, printers, and small office equipment are eligible for tax relief through your limited company. It is recommended that these costs be purchased directly through your businesses bank account.

Mobile Phone Costs

Whether or not you can make a claim for a mobile phone under your limited company is a common cause of confusion amongst freelance professionals and contractors. However this is a tax deductible expense providing the following:

  1. The mobile phone is in the name of the business
  2. The mobile phone is paid for directly out of the business account
  3. The majority of calls made on the phone are for business use

Stationery, Postage, and Telephone Costs

The cost of stationery, postage, business telephone calls etc, are tax deductible business expenses provided the cost of which were incurred wholly, exclusively, and necessarily in the performance of business duties. It is advisable, where possible, to provide receipts or invoice statements in support of your claims.

The cost of a landline telephone and broadband costs may also be claimable through a limited company provided the use of this is solely for businesses purposes. It is advisable that a second telephone line be used to ensure that there are no discrepancies between your personal and business telephone and broadband usage. If you choose to claim broadband costs from your own home then this is something you should be wary of as this may attract benefit in kind charge which will affect your tax free allowance. See Benefit in Kind.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment (high visibility jackets, steel toe cap boots, etc) are tax deductable expenses as long as they are purchased to be used by the business. It is advisable that this type of expense is purchased directly out of your businesses bank account to avoid any confusion.

Training

Putting yourself through extra training can significantly improve your chances of winning new contracts. However, only training courses that are directly relatable to the income being generated by the business will be claimable through your limited company.

For example: take a Java developer operating through their own limited company working on a Java development for their client. If this contractor were to pay for a daily refresher course in Java then this would be classed as a tax deductible expense as it directly relates to the income currently being generated by the business. However, if the contractor were to take a course in Objective C, then this would not be classed as a tax deductible expense as this programming language is not currently used in any way to generate income for the business.

“Paying for training can be a great way to win new contracts and reduce your corporation tax liability; however you must be sure that the training you intend to undertake is a legitimate expense for your line of work. Before undertaking any training courses it is always advisable to query this with your personal accountant to ensure that the training course is tax deductible through your limited company”.

Subscriptions and professional fees

Claiming subscriptions and professional fees to approved professional bodies may be an allowable tax deductible expense provided that the professional body is directly related to an income source of the business.

Business Entertaining

Meals or events that involve more than one person that are held with external stakeholders of your business (clients or customers) are described as business entertaining.

The provision of entertaining does not usually attract a tax charge for you as a director when the cost of the event is incurred wholly, exclusively, and necessarily in the performance of business duties.

Expenses claims in relation to entertaining must be supported by a valid receipt accompanied by a list of those being entertained, the organisation they represent and the reason for the entertaining.

Business entertaining is not a tax deductible expense.

“When a claim for entertaining is submitted to your personal accountant they will likely call you to confirm how you would like the claim to be treated and to request any supporting documentation”.

Tools and Equipment

The cost of the upkeep, replacement, and repair of tools and equipment (including computer equipment) is a tax deductible business expense provided the items are:

  1. Wholly, necessarily, and exclusively used in your day to day work (no personal usage of the items is allowable)
  2. The tools are not classed as fixed assets. See Capital Expenditure

Capital Expenditure

Capital expenditure refers to items that have an enduring benefit to your limited company.

Examples of capital assets could be:

  1. Computer equipment
  2. Office Furniture
  3. Motor vehicles

If such items are owned by the business then capital allowances will be claimable for tax relief rather than the full cost being an allowable expense in the year of purchase.

The capital allowance rate for plant and machinery, and equipment costs is 100% of the value of the asset in the year of purchase, up to the value of £25,000. The capital allowance rate for a motor vehicle will depend on the CO2 emissions of the vehicle.

If a capital allowance item is bought on HP (hire purchase) then the cost of the interest payments can be claimed as a revenue expense.

“Before purchasing a capital asset through your business it is always worth consulting your personal accountant to ensure you are getting the maximum benefit through your limited company”.

 

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