Cleaners' travel costs - allowable or not?

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Cleaners' travel costs - allowable or not?

Question:

Self-employed cleaners normally have a regular pattern of travel, visiting various clients on the same day every week or month. They may be based from home, but perhaps not enough to make the home a base for tax purposes.  Although technically, travel may not be tax deductible, this seems harsh. What is your view?


Arthur Weller replies: 
I have not got a definitive answer to your question. The nearest guidance I can find is in HMRC’s Business Income manual (at www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/business-income-manual/bim37620), where it is explained that 'Where an ‘itinerant’ trader’s base of operations is at their residence, you should allow the costs of travelling between the residence and the sites at which the trader works. An itinerant trader is one who travels from their home to a number of different locations for the purely temporary purpose at each such place of their completing a job of work, at the conclusion of which they attend at a different location. A typical example would be a jobbing builder.' In the example given, the man worked about three weeks at one site, then moved on to the next site. However, if a person lives at one location, and travels to their shop or surgery, etc., the courts have decided that would not be allowable. I am inclined to say that these self-employed cleaners are more similar to the itinerant traders. Even though they go on the same day every week, but the place they go to is not theirs, they are working on someone else's premises. However, it is worth considering whether they are truly self-employed.

Self-employed cleaners normally have a regular pattern of travel, visiting various clients on the same day every week or month. They may be based from home, but perhaps not enough to make the home a base for tax purposes.  Although

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This question was first printed in Business Tax Insider in March 2020.