Sorting your small business expenses

Most people are aware that you can claim expenses back from HMRC. Unfortunately, not everyone knows the specifics. There’s a lot you can be getting back so if you’re not filling out the expenses part of your tax returns, you could be missing out. Here’s a look at what you could be claiming.

SB expenses

Rent

If you happen to have your office in your home, you’ll be able to get some of your rent back as expenses. Obviously you can’t get everything back, so it’s a matter of doing some simple maths to figure out the correct amount.

If you have a room that is wholly dedicated to business you’ll need to work out what proportion that makes up for your home. For example, say you live in a 100m² flat and your office takes up 20m², that means it’s a fifth on your entire. Therefore, you can claim a fifth of your rent back from the taxman, which with rent of £1000 per month you’d be able to claim £200.

If the room isn’t only used for business, then you’ll need to figure out what fraction of time you use it for work. So, if you used it for business half the time, that would bring the previous figure down to £100. It’s all pretty straightforward.

Travel

Business often means travelling around whether it’s a drive from your home to the office or a train journey across the country. Luckily HMRC allow you to get this money back. Again, these trips must solely be for business purposes. No visiting Auntie Margaret up North while meeting a client. It seems arbitrary, but thems the rules.

So, when it comes to using your own vehicle to get to work or business meetings, here’s what you can get back. If you’re going by car or van, it’s 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles. After that, it’s 25p. If you’re on a bicycle it’s 20p per mile, while on a motorcycle it’s 25p.

Make sure you’re keeping track. These miles really can add up over a year.

If instead you’re using something like a train or a plane, you can also claim back the cash. It’s useful to know that HMRC don’t require you to use the cheapest method of transport, nor let you only claim the cost of the cheapest. If you were going from London to Glasgow, you’re allowed to claim for a £120 flight even if an £80 train was a viable choice. Just make sure you keep your receipts.

Office Supplies

Office supplies are pretty essential. Most need paper, pens and whatever else to keep functioning. Not many companies are at the ‘paperless’ stage yet. This costs can add up to a pretty significant amount, so luckily HMRC allows you to claim on all the staples and board markers you’ve been buying.

In the end, a rule of thumb is that if something is to be used wholly for your business, you should be able to make a legitimate claim on it. As long as you’re sensible and smart you shouldn’t run into any problems. Make sure you’re keeping all of your receipts, invoices and whatever else to back up your expenses as well. Also beware that HMRC can come back and request proof on claims up to 6 years after they’re made, so no celebratory bonfires once you’ve sent off your Self Assessment.

Joshua Danton Boyd is a financial writer for the online accounting firm Crunch.

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