Travel expenses: travel in the performance of the duties: travel to and from home where it is a place of work: service companies: Miners v Atkinson
Section 337 ITEPA 2003
Directors of small companies operating in service industries such as computer consultancy frequently contend that their home is a place of work (see EIM32760). As a consequence the director will ask for a deduction for the cost of travel from home to the various places at which the company is required to provide services, together with accommodation costs if the director needs to stay away from home. In very many cases, those expenses will not qualify for relief under Section 337 ITEPA 2003. The reason can be illustrated by the case of Miners v Atkinson (68TC629).
Mr Miners was a computer consultant who provided his services through his own service company. The registered office of the company was at Mr Miners’ home, 4 Sandringham Road. Most of Mr Miners’ duties were carried out at the sites of the clients of his company but he did some work at home. The case concerned a deduction under Section 337 ITEPA 2003 for Mr Miners’ travel expenses from his home to the sites at which he worked.
A deduction was not permitted. The duties that Mr Miners carried out at home were not the substantive duties of his employment, see EIM32780. However, the focus of the decision in the High Court was on whether there was an objective requirement that any work carried out by Mr Miners at home had to be carried on at that place.
The question that needed to be answered, and will need to be answered in similar cases, was expressed in these terms:
“The starting point is that 4 Sandringham Road was the appellant’s home. On the authorities, it seems to me that one must ask whether the appellant was working at home out of choice.”
In answer to that question the Special Commissioner had concluded that:
“it was not necessary for the work which Mr Miners carried out at 4 Sandringham Road to be done at that precise address. It could have been done anywhere.”
There was a clear finding by the High Court that there was no objective requirement for the work to be carried out at Mr Miners’ home. This conclusion applies in the same way to the great majority of one-man service companies. However, in very unusual circumstances, there may be exceptions. There is some practical advice at EIM32800.
The effect of this case is illustrated by examples EIM32805 and EIM32806.
Remember that even where relief for travel expenses cannot be permitted under Section 337 ITEPA 2003 it will still be available under Section 338 ITEPA 2003 where the place to which the employee is travelling is a temporary workplace, see EIM32170.