Business travel and subsistence payments

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Subsistence is the tax term for food and drink normally incurred in conjunction with allowable business travel

You can make a claim to obtain tax relief on subsistence by claiming it as an expense from your employer (if your employer agrees this). If not, you have to make a claim on your self-assessment tax return.

There is no limit on what you can spend, but your employer may set an upper limit on amount you can claim back.You need to keep your receipts. If you are claiming the expense on your tax return, your claim cannot exceed what you spent, and should be matched by receipts.

HMRC’s benchmark scale rates for subsistence are designed to be used by employers. However, there seems to be no reason why an employee should not use them in order to claim tax relief from HMRC, other than the fact that HMRC does not mention it.
So long as you are able to prove to HMRC that you undertook a business journey for a certain amount of time to justify your claim.





Breakfast rate: early starters (leave home before 6 am)





Five hour rate





Two meal rate





Late evening rate (finish work after 8 pm)







Up to £25 (max)



HMRC’s scale rates are only payable when an employee has to buy a meal(s) and you are not supposed to pay a scale rate if your employee takes his own pack up!


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