Travel expenses: travel in the performance of the duties: travel to and from home where it is a place of work: Kirkwood v Evans
Sections 336 and 337 ITEPA 2003
The case of Kirkwood v Evans (74TC481) illustrates the approach of the Courts to employees working at home under a voluntary homeworking scheme.
Mr Evans was a civil servant who lived in King’s Lynn and worked in Leeds. His employer introduced a voluntary homeworking scheme under which Mr Evans was permitted to work at home and to travel to Leeds on one day each week. Under the scheme Mr Evans lost his office space in Leeds but was provided with equipment to support an office at home. Either Mr Evans or his employer could terminate the homeworking agreement.
Mr Evans argued that travel between his home and Leeds was travel in the performance of the duties of the employment, see EIM32360. The High Court reviewed the cases discussed at EIM32372 and EIM32373, rejected that argument and commented:
“his choice to live in King’s Lynn rather than Leeds was historical and is unconnected with any term of his employment. The necessity of travelling to Leeds is dictated by his choice of the place where he lives and not by the nature and terms of the job itself.”
The High Court also rejected the Commissioners’ apparent finding that Leeds was not a permanent workplace for the purpose of section 339(2) (see EIM32070). Mr Evans put forward no such argument, and conceded that the Commissioners’ finding on the point was wrong.
Finally, Mr Evans argued that he was entitled to relief for the additional household costs he incurred while working at home. This was rejected because:
“the homeworking scheme was optional. Mr Evans was permitted to work from home but he was not required to do so. He took up the option because for perfectly understandable reasons it was more convenient for him to remain at home for most of the week rather than to travel to Leeds. Working at home was not therefore a necessary incident of his employment.”
The principle that underlies this decision is that sections 336 and 337 ITEPA 2003 only permit relief for those expenses that are incurred by a necessity arising from the nature of the employment, see EIM31641. They do not permit relief for expenses incurred out of choice, or because of the personal circumstances of the individual employee.