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What can an employee claim expenses for?

Employees can claim expenses for purchases they have made that support them in doing their job. Every company will have its own specific policies in relation to expense claims and what can be claimed for. According to the policy, companies will typically reimburse all reasonable business expenses incurred in the work done by an employee for its employer.

Businesses can only reimburse expenses that are incurred completely for the purpose of business. So, if an expense has an element of personal use, only the business part can be claimed. An example would be vehicle fuel. When an employee fills their car up and makes a business journey, they can’t claim the cost of the whole tank of petrol, only the amount they used for the business trip. In this case, companies tend to pay a per mile allowance that reflects the cost of the fuel plus an amount towards wear and tear on the vehicle. The employee must record the distance travelled and claim for the number of miles, at the mileage rate specified. Mileage rates may be adjusted for different vehicle engine sizes or types.

If an employee buys something and it’s not for business purposes, then reclaims the cost from an employer, it becomes a benefit. This is taxable for the employee because it’s regarded as a form of remuneration.

Here are some examples of other types of expenses that employees can claim for:

  • Travel and accommodation
    This includes overnight stays, transportation of all kinds and parking costs. Employees might also claim for legal documents like visas or for medical expenses where vaccinations are required. Travel expenses also usually include meals or daily subsistence allowances.
  • Corporate entertainment
    Companies may allow claims for business collateral or corporate entertainment. Policies on this vary widely. There may be a genuine business need for executives to entertain customers and prospects – for example, buying event tickets or paying for meals and refreshments during meetings. Some organisations may not allow claims for alcohol or certain types of entertainment.
  • Stationery and consumable goods
    Employees may need to purchase supplies that aren’t provided directly by the business. For example, batteries, notebooks or flipchart pens.
  • Subscriptions
    Employees may claim for certain types of subscription, for example membership of a professional body that relates to their work, or for subscriptions to specialist publications.
  • Telephony and home office use
    If employees use their own mobile phone or office for work, they can reclaim calls and expenses that relate to this.

In all the above examples though, you should check your own organisation’s travel and expenses policy to make sure you only purchase items that the company will reimburse.

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