Claiming for use of office and related costs

The self-employed are often concerned regarding expenses they can claim. In this article, we will briefly look at the rules for claiming expenses relating to office, property and equipment. You cannot claim for any non-business use of premises, phones or other office equipment.

As a general rule, you can claim for items you’d normally use for less than 2 years as allowable expenses such as stationery and other office sundries as well as rent, rates, power and insurance costs.

HMRC lists the following office expenses which can be claimed:

  • phone, mobile, fax and internet bills
  • postage
  • stationery
  • printing
  • printer ink and cartridges
  • computer software your business uses for less than 2 years
  • computer software if your business makes regular payments to renew the licence (even if you use it for more than 2 years)

Planning note

You can also claim the applicable part of rent, rates, power and insurance costs for any part of your home used as an office.

Equipment you buy to use in your business that you would expect to last for more than 2 years e.g. computers are treated as allowable expenses, if you use cash basis accounting or you can claim capital allowances if you use traditional accounting.

Fish and chip shop directors banned

A recent investigation by the Insolvency Service has seen two married restaurant directors disqualified for a total of 5 years each. The Directors of Gambino Fish Ltd trading as Quality Fish, were the subject of an in-depth investigation by HMRC.

The investigation found that the directors caused or allowed the company to submit inaccurate statutory VAT returns. The company had failed to record all its cash takings and had therefore under-declared the VAT due to HMRC. As a result, HMRC raised a VAT assessment of £53,332. At liquidation, the company owed HMRC in excess of £164,000 in relation to VAT, PAYE and national insurance contributions and corporation tax.

The two company directors were disqualified after the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy accepted the disqualification undertakings. The disqualification means that the directors cannot promote, manage, or be a director of a limited company for five years from 10 December 2017.

Commenting on this case Lawrence Zussman, Deputy Head of Investigations with the Insolvency Service, said:

‘Much of the public service is funded by the correct amount of taxes being paid. By not declaring and paying the correct amount of taxes, the public has been deprived from receiving the services it deserves from the public sector. The Insolvency Service will not hesitate to take action against directors so they cannot abuse limited liability provided by trading through a company.’