We are all familiar with the expenses that we are allowed to claim a tax deduction for in our accounts. They typically include items like rent, insurances, print and advertising costs, wages and salaries, to name but a few. However, there are items that often cause much debate as to whether they are tax deductible or not. The main culprits I have found that can cause confusion are food and meal expenses and entitlement to claim mileage and subsistence allowances.
For self employed individuals, the rules relating to food and meals are actually quite clear – the cost of meals taken at the place of business are not allowable for tax purposes. Meals consumed away from the place of business are, in general, not regarded as being for the purposes of the business. This may seem a bit unfair – after all we’re not necessarily talking about expensive lunches in fine dining establishments on a daily basis. Who has the time, budget and metabolism for that anyhow? Most of us are more likely to opt for a quick take away sandwich from the shop/cafe closest the office, so why is it not a business expense? Well, Revenue’s view point on food and meals is that everyone must eat in order to live, so whether you are working or not, you still have to eat. If you think about it, for anyone that is a PAYE employee, you have to pay for your own lunch/food costs and cannot claim any tax credit/relief for having to do so, so why as self employed individual would this same cost now be regarded as a business expense? The Revenue do recognise that obviously, where the fundamental nature of a business involves travelling - an example they give is that of a long distance lorry driver, or where occasional business journeys outside the normal pattern are made, then the cost of meals maybe allowed as an expense.
So, what about civil service mileage rates and subsistence allowances? Well that’s for the next blog post.