In certain circumstances it may be possible to claim expenses from your employer and not be required to include a formal receipt. In brief the company can set ‘scale rates’ for frequently incurred expenses and get these rates agreed by HMRC.

New guidance has been published by HMRC which empowers employers to set scale rates for particular expenses. Where these scale rates are agreed employees can claim them without the normal requirement to produce a receipt.

Examples illustrated by HMRC’s web site include subsistence payments and cleaning of protective clothing or uniforms.

The following notes outline some of the issues that need to be considered when setting scale charges that will qualify under this concession.

  • It is only possible to claim the scale charge when the underlying expense has been incurred. For example if a daily subsistence allowance was paid, irrespective of the employee actually incurring subsistence expenditure every day, HMRC would treat this as a payment of earnings and tax it accordingly.
  • HMRC intend that scale rate payments only cover expenses which are widely incurred and for which it is often difficult to get receipts.
  • Scale rates should be set at “modest” levels – at an amount that will be enough to cover the relevant expense.
  • Scale rates must be agreed with HMRC before any payments are made to employees.

HMRC make suggestions for a process of sampling in order to quantify the level at which scale rates are set.

If your reimbursements to employees are significant it may simplify your accounting if you consider introducing scale rates for appropriate expenses, we can help.

A “tasty” footnote: Whilst researching this article we came across the following HMRC directive regarding claims for subsistence, in particular a claim for the cost of sandwiches/packed lunch if working away. If you make yourself a pack-up lunch using your domestic supplies, the cost of the food cannot be reimbursed tax free by your employer nor can you make a claim on your tax return if you are not reimbursed. If however you purchase a ready made sandwich this cost can be reimbursed or a claim made on your tax return!