If you are travelling around for business reasons it can mean food ends up costing you more money than normal. Especially if you work from home!
There are rules that allow you to claim for food when you’re self-employed helping you to reduce your tax bill.
When Can You Claim for Food
Generally speaking, you can claim for food you buy when travelling outside of your normal work pattern or daily commute.
Here are some example scenarios:
A self-employed bookkeeper travels to see a potential new client and buys lunch while on the road. As this is not a normal journey or commute, the bookkeeper can claim the full cost of buying lunch.
A self-employed web developer agrees to work two days at a clients office on a weekly basis. The web developer can’t claim for lunch on these two days each week since this is a regular trip.
A self-employed hairdresser stays overnight in a hotel to assist with a clients wedding. The hairdresser can claim for the cost of the hotel and incidental meals.
How much Can You Claim for Food
Whilst food you pay for may be tax deductible, the amount you claim must be “Reasonable”
Unfortunately HMRC does not offer us a clear definition of “Reasonable”.
It is safest to assume that you must keep your meals of a reasonable value.
A meal deal from Pret would be acceptable but a night out with cocktails and lobster may go down well with HMRC.
What About Alcohol?
Again any drinks you buy must be of a reasonable amount. This means a glass of wine or a beer with your meal rather than an evening in the hotel bar.
After years of self-employed people taking advantage of the tax rules, HMRC disallow all client entertainment.
So even if you take a potential new client out you won’t be able to claim for the cost of the meal against your taxes.
Anita is a Chartered Accountant with over a decade of experience taking self-employed business owners from financially confused to business savvy.
She is the creator of the ‘Go Self Employed’ website, which is her corner on the internet where she makes self-employment less terrifying.