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HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

Travel expenses: general: overseas conferences, seminars and study tours: spouses on business trips

Sections 336 to 339 ITEPA 2003

Some employers regard it as being in their interests to encourage a director or employee to be accompanied by his or her spouse on business trips, particularly those abroad. Employers who operate such a policy will usually pay or reimburse the spouse’s expenses. Those expenses will be assessable on the employee as general earnings (except for 2015/16 and earlier employees in an excluded employment (see EIM20007)). The employee will then need to consider a deduction under Sections 336 to 339 ITEPA 2003.

Whether or not a deduction is due will depend on the facts. It is vital that these are established, preferably by a meeting with the couple, before a decision is reached.

To obtain a deduction the employee must show that the expense of taking his or her spouse was necessarily incurred in the performance of the employee’s duties. It is legitimate to ask whether the duties would have required someone else to accompany the employee, for example a secretary or interpreter, if the employee’s spouse had not accompanied the employee, or the employee had not been married. A deduction should normally only be permitted in the circumstances set out in EIM31985.

In the case of Maclean v Trembath (36TC653) the Courts refused a deduction for the cost of a wife’s trip to Australia where there was no evidence to support a deduction.

Example EIM31992 shows how to determine which expenses should be disallowed when a spouse accompanies the employee on an overseas business trip.