Freelancers' Questions: Can I claim petrol costs as a new Uber driver?

Freelancer’s Question: My spouse and I are in the throes of starting up a creative business together but as we’re still pre-launch, I’d like to do some Uber driving on free evenings. If I did, is the petrol claimable, as I understand I’d be self-employed?

I ask because the other day I took a local (non-Uber) taxi and the presumably self-employed driver was complaining about the cost of petrol and how there’s not much profit left for him at the month-end once he pays for fuel. Is he missing a trick? I can just about afford Uber’s upfront admin fee, but would need to claim the petrol costs afterwards. Please advise if I can.

Expert’s Answer: Yes, you should be able to claim for the cost of your fuel when you're driving on business. Journeys from your home to your starting point (if you have a stand or depot where you start work) would not be allowable, so you couldn't claim for the fuel for those journeys. But when you are driving a passenger, or driving to pick up another passenger, then you would be able to claim for the fuel for those journeys.

Make sure that you keep a mileage log that you can show to HMRC if they ask, with business journeys clearly described and distinguished from non-business journeys.

This is all subject to the proviso that you are self-employed when working as an Uber driver. I would check this carefully because I understand that Uber did recently lose a case where two of its drivers were found to be ‘workers,’ rather than self-employed drivers. So I would recommend that you check with your accountant or a status adviser to make sure that you are genuinely self-employed as an Uber driver. If you are a ‘worker,’ then how much you could claim for fuel would be between yourself and Uber.

The expert was Emily Coltman FCA, chief accountant to cloud accounting software specialist FreeAgent.


3rd January 2018

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