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HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

Tax treatment of teachers, lecturers and tutors: school teachers' expenses: travelling expenses: attendance at functions outside school hours

Following the decision in Donnelly v Williamson (54TC636) in 1981 it was accepted that travelling expenses paid to teachers in respect of travel between home and work would not be taxable if:

  • they were attending functions taking place outside school hours and
  • they were not subject to the benefits code, see EIM20001.

The decision in the case was based on a finding of fact by the Commissioners that attendance at functions outside school hours was not part of the contractual duties of the teacher.

The Education (School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions of Employment) Order 1987 came into effect on 30 April 1987 and changed the position by making attendance at parents’ evenings a duty of the employment. It follows that travelling expenses paid to teachers for attendance at such meetings on school premises are earnings of the employment, to which PAYE should be applied by the payer.

The Order enables head teachers to direct time. When carrying out directed duties, teachers are performing the duties of their employment and travel from home to any such directed functions on the school premises is taxable in the usual way.

The only circumstances in which expenses paid by the employer for travel between home and a permanent workplace, such as the school premises, remain non-taxable are where the teacher is:

  • not within the benefits code and
  • not carrying out directed duties.

This may include, for example, such functions as evening or weekend performances of school plays, concerts and sports functions.

Many local authority employers are unwilling to pay travelling expenses for attendance at school functions. Those that do pay them have a variety of arrangements for doing so and the rate at which they pay also varies. In some cases the schools themselves pay the expenses but the local authority will have to ensure that PAYE is operated whether it pays them itself or whether the schools do so.