What is a Subsistence tax rebate?

Subsistence is the term given by HMRC to food and refreshments bought when working at a temporary workplace.

It is common to have travel and subsistence expenses at the same time because traveling to a temporary workplace and then having to buy your own food and refreshments when you are there goes hand in hand.

You can claim a tax rebate for your subsistence costs at the same time or separately to a mileage or accommodation tax rebate claim.

To be allowable you must be attending a temporary workplace with travel and subsistence tax relief not available to taxpayers who work at a fixed place of employment.

What is a temporary workplace for subsistence?

To be eligible for a subsistence tax rebate you must be able to show HMRC that you were working at a temporary workplace.

The same temporary workplace rules apply to a mileage, travel and accommodation tax rebate claim.

In general terms a temporary workplace for HMRC purposes is classed as a place of work that you attend or expect to attend for 24 months or less.

  • You are entitled to claim for any food and refreshments bought from the beginning to the end of your temporary workplace journey. If you work away from home this includes all the meals and snacks you buy whilst living away.
  • You are not allowed to claim for food and refreshments bought before your journey began. For example if you prepared food at home the day before your journey began this would not be permissible.

What do I need to make a subsistence tax rebate claim?

HMRC will require some evidence to prove your temporary workplace status and how much you spent.

We have made a short list below of what is usually needed so you can gather what you need before you claim.

Subsistence tax rebate claim records:

  • Contract of employment or statement from your employer confirming that you have a temporary workplace status.
  • A record confirming the temporary workplace address with the dates you worked there.
  • Receipts or other digital record showing your subsistence purchases.

Can I claim a subsistence tax rebate if my employer reimburses me?

Some employers reimburse the full cost of subsistence tax free which means you don’t need to make a tax rebate claim.

If you are not reimbursed for your subsistence costs or you are reimbursed and the money is taxed along with your salary a claim should still be allowable.

For a claim where you have been reimbursed and the reimbursement has been taxed HMRC will normally need to see your payslips to confirm how you have been paid by your employer.

Can I claim a tax rebate for accommodation costs?

Accommodation costs can be claimed for in the same way as subsistence with the same temporary workplace rulings applying.

HMRC will typically need to see the same type of evidence as a subsistence claim so keep all of your records and receipts along with payslips if you are reimbursed a taxed accommodation allowance by your employer.

How do I make a subsistence tax rebate claim?

The forms used to submit a subsistence tax rebate to HMRC are either the P87 or self assessment tax return.

A P87 is used if your subsistence and any other claim you are making at the same time is worth £2500 or less. After the P87 is received by HMRC it is likely that HMRC will ask you for further evidence to prove your temporary workplace and what you have spent.

If you complete a self assessment tax return already or your claim is worth £2500 or more you will need to submit your subsistence claim through self assessment. You will need to include your subsistence expenditure figure in the employment section of your tax return.


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