UK tax filter: can I claim my season ticket as a travel expense?
January 21, 2014 9:37 AM   Subscribe

I work as a mystery shopper as an independent contractor. I am given a set fee for each job. In previous tax years I've purchased individual tickets to get to and from each visit, and have claimed these back as travel expenses in my tax return. Halfway through the 2012-13 tax year I started a permanent, full time job and took advantage of their season ticket loan scheme to purchase an annual travel pass. Because of this pass, I no longer buy separate tickets to travel on mystery shopping visits. My question is, can I still claim a portion of this season ticket back as a travel expense for the mystery shops? For example, if it would have cost me £4 return to get from home to a site and back again, can I claim that £4 even though I don't have individual tickets for those journeys? I am guessing I can't, which is fine, but I've not been given a firm steer by HM Revenue and Customs and I want to get this right! I know you are not my tax accountants, but I am guessing some of you have had the same issue and can point me in the right direction!
posted by ozgirlabroad to Work & Money (3 answers total)
Ordinarily, you can claim a portion (roughly 5%, I think) of fixed costs like your rent and utilities bills if you, say, work from home as an independent/company. So there is precedence for claiming back costs you would have incurred anyway if they also get used in the course of your independent business.

The question comes down to how the taxman sees your season ticket. Ordinarily, if this is your normal commute you can claim none of it back for expenses. To complicate things further, HMRC grants your employer a tax exemption on your season ticket loan, which was £5k in that tax year.

In short: it is complicated. It probably will need a tax accountant to give you a definitive answer. If you asked me to guess I would say no, you cannot claim these costs back. I have, however, always found the HMRC advisers to be extremely helpful. If the firm steer you're not getting is from their website, try giving them a call and asking them.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:55 AM on January 21, 2014

In the US, you could probably use a reasonable method to allocate the cost between business and personal use. I would be surprised if HMRC did it differently.
posted by jpe at 11:47 AM on January 21, 2014


Does Example 1 fit your circumstances?
posted by jpe at 11:58 AM on January 21, 2014

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