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Am I allowed to claim the expenses of a meal whilst working or Can I claim for clothing?

It is regular question asked Can I claim expenses of meals ? It is complex area and answer is not straight forward. It depend on what industry you operates in.

In general answer is no. We all have to eat to live and you can not separate the cost of food you have to eat to live and call it as business expenses.

It is also notable if HMRC decide to enquiry into your return, they will review every single expense claimed and will look into it to review, It was wholly and exclusively incurred for business purpose. If more anomalies are found into your self assessment. They will dig up to last five or six years of returns.

This matter has been to court and few of examples are below

Mr Quinn was an itinerant carpenter who worked on numerous building sites. It was not possible for him to go home for lunch so he claimed to deduct the extra cost of the lunch he bought for himself at wherever he was working – he estimated the cost was 40p, as compared to the cost of a lunch at home of 10p – this all took place in 1975 – so he claimed the 30p difference.

Mr Quinn’s tax inspector, who rejoiced in the name of Caillebotte, did not agree and he disallowed the claim. In order to be deductible, an expense must be incurred “wholly and exclusively” for the purposes of the business, and as we all have to eat in order to live, you cannot separate out a part of the cost of the food and call it a business expense, said Mr Caillebotte.

Mr Quinn went to court about this, and lost. Subsistence expenses are one of a number of costs that a self-employed person cannot deduct because of this “duality of purpose”.

The other famous case involved the barrister, Baroness Mallalieu, who lost her claim to deduct the cost of her court clothes – the wig and gown were OK, but the normal smart business clothes she wore underneath were not, even though the court accepted that she did not like a formal style of dress and only wore the clothes in court.

Just as we have to eat in order to live, we wear clothes for “warmth and decency” as well as for the requirements of our profession. Uniforms and protective clothing are allowable, but ordinary civilian clothing is not.

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