Travel and Subsistence Expenses

As an umbrella employee, there are instances in which you may be able to enjoy tax relief on the cost of travel and subsistence. However, the changes announced in 2016 means that the rules now work a little differently.

As these changes caused some confusion amongst contractors, our guide is here to explain whether you’re entitled to tax relief and how you can claim.

What is travel and subsistence?

Travel and subsistence expenses relate to the costs incurred during business travel, accommodation and meals. Since subsistence is considered as a cost associated with business-related travel, it is treated in the same category.

You can see a full list of allowable expenses from HMRC.

Claiming travel and subsistence expenses as an umbrella employee

HMRC changed the rules because they believed that umbrella employers were treating their contractors in the same manner as full-time employees. Since employees can’t claim expenses, this was deemed unfair.

The rules dictate that in order for you to enjoy tax relief, your contract cannot fall under the SDC banner - you will need to assess whether your assignment falls under supervision, direction or control. HMRC will automatically classify every umbrella contractor under SDC unless you can provide evidence otherwise.

What is Supervision, Direction and Control?

HMRC’s SDC test is used to determine employment status and the definitions below should serve as a guideline:

  • Supervision: Whereby someone overseas another person’s work to ensure that it’s being done to the agreed standards.
  • Direction: Whereby someone makes another person do their work in a certain way by providing instructions, guidance and/or advice.
  • Control: Whereby someone can tell a worker how they do the work. This also includes the power to move the worker from task to task.

If you’re still unsure, you can find more details in our guide to SDC.

Jargon buster

  • T&S: Refers to your travel and subsistence expenses
  • SDC: Refers to supervision, direction or control (or the right of in the manner in which you perform your work)
  • NIC: National Insurance Contributions

With you all the way

Got a question about travel and subsistence expenses? To speak with one of our experts, get in touch.