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.

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