Working from home: things you can claim but didn’t realise

Expend Team

02 December 2021

It’s tempting to imagine that expense processes are littered with dubious or fraudulent claims, and whilst fraud needs to carefully managed, it’s a surprise that many employees don’t recognise what items they can legitimately claim when working from home.

Given the recent uptake in working from home, and to help clarify, the team at Expend have busted a few myths on things you can claim but didn’t realise.

📲 Using your personal mobile phone for work

If you need to use your personal mobile phone for work related calls, then you can claim back a portion of your phone bill.

The amount that can be claimed needs to reflect the proportion of the bill that relates to work calls.

A simple way to work this out is to think about the fraction of your time that you use your mobile phone for work calls, and then multiply your phone bill.

So if your phone bill is £50.00 and half your calls you make from it are work related, then your claim will be for 50 x 0.5 = £25.00.

Of course, you can achieve a more accurate number by scrutinising an itemised bill,  but a reasonable estimate will normally be right. 

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💡 Household bills

If you work from home, then you can claim for a proportion of your household costs relating to that work, including claims for any additional expenses related to landline bills, broadband and home wi-fi, provided they relate to your work.

However, if you are on an ‘unlimited’ package then you cannot claim because you have not incurred any additional costs by making work related calls from home.

Regarding utility bills: if you are required to work at home, then you can claim for the additional expense of heating and lighting, but if you choose to work from home, you cannot.

Also, if you have ‘fixed’ costs, such as mortgage payments and council tax, these do not vary if you are required to work from home, so you cannot claim these as an additional cost.

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🧳 Business trips

Ultimately Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) determine what is a legitimate business expense. The general rule is that a claimable expense needs to be incurred fully for the purposes of your employment. 

For business trips outside your normal place of work, it’s important to understand the rules.

Your employer will need to nominate your normal place of work, and all costs associated with getting to and from that normal place of work cannot be claimed. However, if a business journey is not part of your normal working day, then the costs can be reclaimed. 

So, no matter whether you travel by train or car, you can claim for the costs.

But remember that your employer will probably have a business travel policy defining what type of class of tickets is permitted, in a bid to control costs. And remember that if you carry a passenger you could be able to claim more.

Remind your employer that a mobile expenses app can make travel claims quicker and easier.

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So, we hope this helps clarify claims for legitimate expenses related to when your employer requests that you work from home.

Disclaimer: This is not legal, accounting, or tax advice - it's simply a guide. If you need help, check with your accountant or contact HMRC directly.  

Expend Team

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