Any questions? Fuel is getting more expensive – is there any way I can get tax relief for my costs of getting to work?

Published on 24 August 2018

We regularly receive queries via our website. We do not give advice, but we try to signpost sources of further information and support. Some of the replies might be useful to others, so occasionally we will post them anonymously as ‘question and answer’ news items. We have received a question recently on whether any tax relief is available for the motoring costs of getting to work.

Can-i-claim-working-tax-credit
©shutterstock/Aaron Amat

Please note – this is posted as a ‘news’ item, which means the information and links are not reviewed and updated. You should not rely on it without checking the full facts of your case with HMRC or a tax adviser.

Question

I have to travel 55 miles one way to get to work. The cost alone in petrol is on average £75 a week and a weekly mileage of 550 miles on my little car. Could I claim tax relief for this? Thank you.

Answer

That does sounds like a lot of miles, however, I’m afraid the rules on what travel expenses qualify for tax relief are quite strict.

In particular, there is generally no tax relief available for the costs of 'ordinary commuting' – that is, travel between an employee’s home and a permanent workplace. 

Strictly, the law says travel expenses are only allowable for tax purposes if:

  • You have to make the journeys in the performance of the duties of your employment (this may apply where the duties themselves inherently involve travelling such as a delivery driver or meter reader); or
  • They are journeys which you make to or from a place you have to attend in the performance of your duties (which can include trips from your office or other work location to visit a customer or other ‘temporary’ workplace.) This rule can also include travel directly from your home to visit a customer or to another ‘temporary’ workplace. (Note, the word ‘temporary’ has a specific meaning in tax law, which is not the same as the ordinary, natural meaning of the word – it typically applies when you are required to go and work in another location for a temporary purpose, as part of your ‘core’ employment.)

Whether you can claim travel expense relief for your 110 miles a day will depend on the nature of your job. However, you can find out more about the travel rules and about how HMRC apply them to different scenarios in HMRC’s booklet 490. (Please note that even though this booklet is referred to an employer booklet, it is useful for employees too).  

In booklet 490 you will also find information on how HMRC apply the rules to specific situations, such as journeys to a depot where tasks are allocated, where the employee’s job is defined by reference to a particular geographic area, where the employee attends the same workplace for most of the time they hold the employment, or where the journey is not significantly different from the employee’s ordinary commute.

If you do think you are entitled to claim tax relief, we can point you to our website guidance which explains how to calculate and claim it:

What if I use my own care for business purposes?

and

How do I claim a refund if I have spend my own money on employment expenses?

(24-08-2018)

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