Why mileage claims for home-based office users are in doubt

A tax tribunal case decided in late January has thrown into doubt whether deductions for mileage claims are valid for people having a legitimate office in their homes, writes Richard Lupson-Darnell of chartered accountancy firm Davies Mayers Barnett.

The case involved a doctor working both in the NHS and privately, but it could equally apply for anyone who has an office at home.

It was not disputed that the office was a legitimate place of business for the doctor. He did a considerable amount of work from home.

However, the Tribunal decided that claims for mileage from home to places he habitually visited on business, in this case two private hospitals, were not valid as the doctor will have had in his mind that the return journey would take him to his home.

He therefore had a "mixed object" to the journey he made. The Tribunal also ruled against the doctor regarding mileage between NHS and private hospitals i.e. between his place of employment and the place he carried out his self-employment. The reason here was that the object of the journey was not integral to him carrying on his private business.

It is to be seen whether this case is appealed by the doctor. In any event it has changed the perceived wisdom for claiming mileage from a legitimate home base. It will not only affect doctors and other professionals, but also anyone who is self-employed, has an office at home and makes habitual journeys.

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