If you drive for work-related travel, you may be entitled to claim tax on travel expenses. However, you can’t generally claim mileage on your usual commute. As you’ll see, when we delve into HMRC’s rules on claiming travel expenses from home to work, things can become a little confusing.
How does HMRC define a commute for tax purposes?
A commute is a journey that you make regularly between your home and permanent workplace e.g. from your home to your office. HMRC defines this as ordinary commuting.
HMRC also defines a permanent workplace as the place where an employee regularly works such as a shop, office, or factory. It’s the location where an employer expects their employee to go to work.
HMRC doesn’t only classify your journey from your home to your permanent workplace as a commute. A journey from your permanent workplace to another non-work-related place can also be considered a commute. For example, a commute could be a journey from your office to the pub.
Is commuting tax deductible?
The simple answer is no. Although the latest travel to work ruling might change this soon, HMRC currently doesn’t consider commuting to be a business journey. Therefore, as a rule, you cannot claim tax back on your mileage on journeys from your home to your permanent workplace. The same applies for journeys from your workplace to another destination that is non-work-related.
Are there any exceptions to claiming mileage from home to work?
Yes. You are able to claim tax on your commute if:
- You have to work temporarily in a different location to your permanent workplace.
- The journey to this temporary workplace is very different from your usual commute. Read more about the 10 mile rule.
- You work at this location for under 24 months and you spend less than 40% of your work week at the temporary location, for example, 2 days out of 5.
What if I work from home? Can I deduct travel expenses?
To determine whether you can claim travel expenses when you work from home, you first need to consider what is your ‘base of operations’.
Your ‘base of operations’ is the place where you do the majority of your work. If you mainly work from home, or if your work requires you to travel from place to place (e.g. electrician or salesperson) then travel expenses can be claimed.
However, in some cases you are not eligible to claim travel expenses, for example:
- If you work mostly from home, but there are patterns in your business travel that are regular and predictable. For example, if you attend a meeting at the company office every Monday morning.
- If you travel to a site where your equipment or tools are stored to pick them up and then travel somewhere else.
In these examples, your home is not considered to be your ‘base of operations’. HMRC only considers the onward travel from your ‘base of operations’ to be business travel.
How do I prove that my home is my ‘base of operations’?
HMRC may require you to justify your travel expenses, so if you claim that your home is your ‘base of operations’ you should provide, for example, prove that:
- The majority of your work is completed at home.
- You complete your admin and paperwork at home.
- Your home address is listed on your official paperwork and correspondence.
- Any contracts are prepared at home.
- Your tools and equipment are stored at home
- You use your home for meetings with clients and suppliers
- You sell from home
What type of travel expenses can I claim?
If your journey is made ‘wholly and exclusively’ for business purposes, you can deduct travel expenses, such as:
- Business mileage – HMRC has set mileage rates that you can use to claim mileage expenses tax-free, regardless of whether you drive a company car or privately owned vehicle.
- Overnight and meal allowance – HMRC has also set rates that you can use to claim overnight and meal expenses tax-free.
- General business travel expenses – Other travel expenses are also deductible, such as parking fees, tolls, and even public transportation costs.
Quick Tip – The easiest way to track trips and claim mileage back:
Here at Autotrip, we’ve developed a mileage tracking solution that makes claiming travel expenses to and from work completely easy.
Autotrip’s plug and play GPS tracker captures every single trip you make and our software automatically calculates the amount that you can claim back, enabling you to turn a mundane task into productive work time.
Learn more about how we make mileage simple at autotrip.com.