Claiming Travel and Subsistence Expenses for Sole Traders
Claiming Travel and Subsistence Expenses for Sole Traders
Find out what can and cannot be included, and under what circumstances these expenses are tax deductible.
July 1, 2024

Travel and subsistence are two of the more troublesome and confusing expense claims facing sole traders. This blog is going to help take some of that mystery away and give a brief overview of what can and cannot be included, and under what circumstances these expenses are tax deductible.

As with most things concerning tax, the overriding rule is that you can only claim for any expenses that are wholly and exclusively for business. But what does this mean in practice?

Business Travel

Before you can claim any business travel expenses, you must think about the reason behind the journey. Only business travel can be claimed, meaning certain criteria must be satisfied in order for travel to be allowed.
Below is a table showing some examples of deductible and non deductible expenses.

Deductible Non Deductible
Travel, other than  the commute, to or from your normal workplace Normal commute to and from normal workplace
Travel between workplaces Parking fines, speeding tickets and other related penalties
Overnight accommodation on work journeys Travel costs that are not solely business related – e.g. purchase of a travelcard that is also used for non work-related journeys. 

As we can see, business travel expenses do not include travel between your home and your usual place of work as this is considered to be normal commuting. Travelling between practices would be classed as a business travel expense however. For example, say you work in two different practices on the same day, A and B. Travel from your home to practice A is not allowable, travel from A to B is, but travel from B back home is not.

Additionally, travelling to and from courses or business meetings is allowable provided they were solely for business.

Business Motor Expenses

There are two choices on how to claim business motor expenses:

  • Proportion of actual car costs each year based on your business mileage. This may include fuel, maintenance, servicing, repairs etc.
  • Claim a flat rate per business mile. These are the current flat rate allowances:


Vehicle Flat rate per mile with simplified expenses
Cars and goods vehicles first 10,000 miles 45p
Cars and goods vehicles after 10,000 miles 25p
Motorcycles 25p

For most, claiming the flat rate will be much easier than working out the business proportion of their motor expenses.

Other Business Travel Cost

Other travel costs that can be claimed are:

  • Parking fees
  • Motorway tolls
  • Congestion charges
  • Any bus or train fares that relate to travel for business purposes

Hotels and Subsistence

The Caillebotte v Quinn (1975) tax case set the precedent that subsistence during the day is not tax deductible on the basis that as everyone must eat and drink to live, the expense incurred isn’t wholly and solely for business purposes. This means that lunches, for example, will always be disallowed if they are eaten during part of your normal working routine. Lunches that fall outside of this, for example on a course, are allowable.

When a business trip involves one or more nights away from home, the hotel accommodation and overnight subsistence, up to a reasonable cost, are tax deductible.

Hopefully this helps clear up what can and cannot be claimed for tax purposes in relation to travel and subsistence, but if you need any further help get in touch.

The information contained in this article is based on the opinion of Hive Business and does not constitute formal tax advice. Any tax outcomes will be based on individual circumstances, tax legislation and regulation, which are subject to change in the future. You should seek specific advice before embarking on any course of action. Hive Business does not provide regulated Financial Advice, including advice on investment, insurance or lending products or their suitability for you. This article is provided for information only and does not constitute, and should not be interpreted as, investment advice or a recommendation to buy, sell or otherwise transact, or not transact, in any investment including Bitcoin and other crypto. Any use you wish to make of any information contained within this article is, therefore, entirely at your own risk.

By Victoria Aitken Accountant
If you have any questions or comments about this article, please get in touch.
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