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What are Allowable Expenses on a Tax Return in the UK?

Navigating the labyrinth of tax returns can be a daunting task, especially when you're self-employed or running a small business in the UK. One of the key aspects that can make this journey less intimidating is understanding allowable expenses. These are the costs that can be deducted from your income to reduce your overall tax liability. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into 33 allowable expenses that you can claim on your tax return in 2023. This is the first part of a three-part series, and here we'll cover the first 11 allowable expenses.

What are Allowable Expenses on a Tax Return in the UK

1. Office Supplies

First on the list are office supplies. Whether you're working from a home office or a separate business location, you'll need various supplies to keep things running smoothly. This category includes stationery, printing costs, ink, and postage. If you're using specific software on a subscription basis or for under two years, those costs can also be claimed.

2. Phone and Internet Bills

Communication is key in any business. Your phone and internet bills are considered allowable expenses. However, it's crucial to separate personal usage from business usage. Only the portion of the bill related to business activities can be claimed.

3. Office Equipment

If you've invested in computer hardware, printers, or software used for over two years, these fall under office equipment. For those using cash-based accounting, you can claim these as expenses. However, if you're using traditional accounting, you'll need to claim capital allowances on these items.

4. Business Premises

Rent, business rates, utilities like electricity and water, building insurance, and even security costs can be claimed as allowable expenses. However, if you own the premises, the cost of the property itself cannot be claimed.

5. Transport and Travel

If your business requires you to travel, you can claim expenses for fuel, parking, train or bus fares. However, the travel must be necessary for work purposes and not include commuting to and from your regular workplace.

6. Legal and Professional Costs

Fees for professionals like accountants, financial advisers, solicitors, and surveyors can be claimed as long as their services are used purely for business reasons. Bank charges also fall under this category.

7. Raw Materials and Stock

If your business involves selling products, the cost of raw materials or stock can be claimed. This is particularly relevant for businesses in manufacturing or retail.

8. Marketing Expenses

From digital advertising to traditional marketing methods, most of your marketing costs can be claimed as allowable expenses. This includes website costs, social media advertising, and even print media.

9. Professional Insurance

Certain professions require specialized insurance, such as public liability or professional indemnity insurance. These can be claimed as allowable expenses.

10. Special Clothing

If your job requires you to wear a uniform, costume, or any other special type of clothing, then the cost of that clothing is tax-deductible.

11. Trade Subscriptions

Membership fees for trade bodies or professional organizations are allowable expenses. The cost of subscribing to professional publications also falls under this category.

12. Business Costs for Vehicles

If you use a vehicle for business purposes, you can claim expenses related to its use. This includes fuel, maintenance, and even parking fees. However, the costs must be strictly for business use, and personal use must be excluded.

13. Working from Home

If you operate your business from home, you can claim a proportion of your home expenses as business costs. This includes heating, electricity, and even Council Tax. The key is to find a reasonable method for dividing these costs, such as the number of rooms used for business or the amount of time spent working from home.

14. Living in Your Business Premises

If you live in the same building where your business is located, you can claim certain expenses. However, you must separate the costs of living from the costs of doing business. For example, if one room in your home is used solely as an office, you can claim a proportion of your utility bills as business expenses.

15. Financial Costs

Insurance premiums, bank charges, and loan interest are examples of financial costs that can be claimed as allowable expenses. However, the costs must be strictly related to the business, and any personal financial costs cannot be claimed.

16. Staff Costs

Salaries, wages, bonuses, pensions, and even subcontractor costs can be claimed as allowable expenses. However, payments to partners in a business partnership are not considered allowable expenses.

17. Business Rates and Utilities

If you have a separate business premises, you can claim expenses for business rates and utilities. This includes water, electricity, and heating costs. However, these must be exclusive to the business premises and not for any residential part of the building.

18. Advertising and Marketing

Beyond the basic marketing costs, you can also claim for more specific advertising expenses. This includes the cost of free samples, sponsorship, and even the cost of building and maintaining your business website.

19. Training Courses

Any training courses that are directly related to your business can be claimed as an allowable expense. This includes refresher courses and skills development programs. However, training for a new trade or business is not allowable.

20. Council Tax

If you work from home, a proportion of your Council Tax can be claimed as a business expense. The exact amount will depend on the proportion of your home used for business purposes and the amount of time spent working from home.

21. Mortgage Interest or Rent

If you work from home, you can claim a proportion of your mortgage interest or rent as an allowable expense. However, the claim must be proportional to the business use of your home.

22. Internet and Telephone Use

For those working from home, a proportion of internet and telephone costs can be claimed as allowable expenses. However, you must separate the costs related to business use from those related to personal use.

23. Simplified Expenses

For those who prefer not to get bogged down with complex calculations, the UK government offers the option of simplified expenses. These are flat rates used for vehicles, working from home, and living on your business premises. This method can be particularly useful for sole traders and business partnerships without any companies as partners.

24. Business Mileage

If you use your vehicle for business, you can opt for a simplified expense based on business mileage. This eliminates the need to calculate the actual costs of fuel and maintenance for business trips.

25. Business Premises Living Costs

If you live on your business premises, simplified expenses allow you to use flat rates to calculate the cost of living at your business premises over the year. This can include utilities and even Council Tax.

26. Capital Allowances

For those using traditional accounting, capital allowances can be claimed when you purchase something you keep for business use. This can include machinery, equipment, and business vehicles like cars, vans, and lorries.

27. Cash Basis Accounting

If you use cash-based accounting, you can claim a car for your business as a capital allowance. However, all other items should be claimed as allowable expenses in the usual way.

28. Dual-Purpose Expenses

For expenses that serve both personal and business purposes, only the business portion can be claimed. For example, if your mobile phone bill totals £200, and £70 is for business calls, only £70 can be claimed.

29. Proportional Costs

When you use something for both business and personal reasons, you can only claim allowable expenses for the business costs. A reasonable method of dividing these costs must be found, such as the number of rooms used for business or the time spent working from home.

30. Business Entertainment

Contrary to popular belief, the cost of entertaining clients is not an allowable expense. So, if you're wining and dining potential clients, those costs will have to come out of your pocket.

31. Research and Development

If your business is involved in research and development, certain costs related to these activities can be claimed as allowable expenses. This can include materials, utilities, and even some staffing costs.

32. Childcare

Employer-supported childcare costs, up to certain limits, can be claimed as allowable expenses. This can include the cost of a workplace nursery.

33. Miscellaneous Expenses

Finally, any other costs that are exclusively for the business can be claimed as allowable expenses. This can include things like trade magazine subscriptions, small tools, and any other minor purchases that are necessary for the day-to-day running of the business.


Understanding what constitutes an allowable expense can significantly reduce your tax liability, leaving you with more money to invest back into your business. With this comprehensive guide, you should now have a clearer picture of the 33 allowable expenses you can claim on your tax return in 2023. Remember, when in doubt, consult a tax professional to ensure you're making the most of your allowable expenses.

What are Disallowable Expenses on a Tax Return in the UK

Allowable Expenses On a Tax Return in the UK If You Work from Home

Working from home has become a new normal for many individuals. While it offers a comfortable and flexible work environment, it also brings about additional expenses related to maintaining a conducive workspace within your home. If you are residing in the UK and have transitioned to a home-based work setup, understanding the allowable expenses on your tax return can help you manage your finances better. In this first section of the article, we will explore the foundational aspects of allowable expenses when working from home, setting the stage for deeper insights in the subsequent sections.

1. Eligibility for Claiming Expenses

The eligibility to claim tax relief for additional household costs comes into play if you are required to work from home, due to reasons like your job necessitating living far from the office, or your employer not having an office. However, if you choose to work from home or your contract allows for such an arrangement, you would not be eligible to claim this tax relief. The same holds true if you work from home due to the ongoing pandemic or because the office premises are full​​.

2. Simplified Expenses Scheme

For self-employed individuals, the UK tax system offers a Simplified Expenses Scheme. This scheme allows you to claim a flat rate for your allowable expenses based on the number of hours you work from home each month. To qualify for this scheme, you need to work a minimum of 25 hours per month from home. Under this scheme, you can also claim the business proportion of your telephone and other related expenses​​.

3. Allowable Expenses Overview

Flat Rate Deduction: As of April 6, 2020, you can claim £6 per week without the need to keep evidence of your extra costs. This flat rate covers the additional costs incurred due to working from home, like electricity and gas for your work area and business phone calls​​.

4. Actual Costs

If your expenses exceed the flat rate, you can claim the exact amount of extra costs incurred. However, you'll need to provide evidence such as receipts, bills, or contracts to substantiate these claims​​.

5. Gas, Electricity, and Water

The costs incurred towards gas, electricity, and metered water for your work area can be claimed as allowable expenses​​.

6. Business Phone Charges

Business-related phone charges are allowable expenses. This includes the cost of business calls and a proportion of the line rental based on the amount of business use​​.

7. Additional Internet Costs

If working from home has led to incurring additional internet costs, these can be claimed as allowable expenses​​.

8. Home Office Setup

If you have a dedicated area in your home for work, a proportion of the costs related to this setup could be claimed as allowable expenses. For instance, if your home office setup costs amount to £150 per month, this amount can be written off, provided it doesn't exceed your gross income​​.

9. Trading Allowance

A trading allowance is provided if your income is less than £1,000 in a year, which means you won’t have to pay tax. However, you cannot claim any allowable expenses if you use your trading allowance​​.

10. Rent and Mortgage Interest

While the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) doesn’t allow a straightforward deduction for rent or mortgage interest, there’s a way around it. If a part of your home is solely used for business purposes, a proportion of the rent or mortgage interest can be claimed as an allowable expense. The claimable amount is usually calculated based on the number of rooms used for business purposes and the amount of time these rooms are used for such purposes.

11. Council Tax

Similar to rent and mortgage interest, a portion of your council tax can be claimed as an allowable expense, provided a part of your home is exclusively used for business activities. The calculation is typically based on the number of rooms and the time they are used for business.

12. Home Insurance

If your home insurance policy covers items or areas used for business, a proportion of the premium could be claimed as an allowable expense. It’s advisable to keep clear records and possibly have a separate insurance policy for business assets.

13. Office Supplies and Equipment

The costs incurred towards office supplies and equipment necessary for your work are fully deductible. This includes stationery, printers, computers, and software. However, if these items are used for both personal and business purposes, only the business portion of the cost is claimable.

14. Repairs and Maintenance

Repairs and maintenance costs related to the area of your home used for business can be claimed as allowable expenses. However, if the repair is for the entire house, a proportion of the cost corresponding to the business use area is claimable.

15. Cleaning Costs

The cost of cleaning the area used for business in your home is an allowable expense. This includes the cost of cleaning materials or hiring a cleaning service.

16. Telephone and Internet

We touched on telephone costs in the previous section. However, it’s worth noting that if a landline is installed at the residential address, the rental for the line is not allowable, except for the cost of business calls. For the internet, if it's used for both personal and business purposes, only the business proportion of the expense is claimable.

17. Postage and Stationery

All costs incurred towards postage and stationery for business purposes are allowable expenses. This includes the cost of stamps, envelopes, and other related items.

18. Professional Subscriptions

Subscriptions to professional bodies or journals related to your business are allowable expenses, provided they are necessary for your work.

19. Training Costs

Training costs that are directly related to your business, enhancing your existing skills and knowledge, are allowable expenses. However, training that qualifies you for a new trade or profession is not allowable.

20. Bank Charges

Bank charges on a business bank account are allowable expenses. It's advisable to have a separate bank account for business to clearly distinguish between personal and business expenses.

What are Disallowable Expenses on a Tax Return in the UK?

Introduction to Disallowable Expenses

When it comes to managing your finances as a business owner in the UK, understanding the difference between allowable and disallowable expenses is crucial. This distinction not only aids in accurate financial reporting but also in minimizing the tax liability legally. As we step into the financial year 2023, it's imperative to have a clear insight into what constitutes disallowable expenses on a tax return. In simple terms, disallowable expenses are those costs that you cannot deduct from your taxable profits. Even though they might be related to your business, the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) does not recognize them as deductible expenses.

In the course of this article, we will delve into 33 disallowable expenses, categorized under three sections, providing a detailed explanation for each. This segmentation will serve as a comprehensive guide to aid taxpayers and business persons in navigating the tax landscape efficiently, ensuring that they are in compliance with the tax laws of the UK.

1. Travel from Home to Your Office: If you rent an office or a workspace, the cost of commuting from your home to the office is not deductible.

2. Client Entertainment: Even if it's work-related, expenses incurred on client entertainment are disallowed. For instance, taking a client out for a meal to secure a business relationship cannot be claimed as an expense against your taxes.

3. Fines and Penalties: Any fines or penalties incurred, such as self-assessment penalties, parking fines, or VAT penalties, are disallowable expenses.

4. Clothing: General clothing or business suits are considered disallowable expenses. However, uniforms, protective clothing, or costumes for actors and entertainers may be allowable.

5. Everyday Lunches: Daily lunch expenses cannot be claimed against self-employment taxes unless you are away from your normal place of work.

6. Training for New Skills: Training costs for acquiring new skills are disallowed, although training to improve your current skills might be allowable.

7. Salary to Sole Traders: If you are registered as a sole trader, any salary you pay to yourself is a disallowable expense.

8. Political Donations: Donations made to political parties or independent election candidates are not deductible.

9. Legal Fees for Property Purchase: Legal expenses incurred during the acquisition of property or shares are disallowed.

10. Depreciation and Losses: Depreciation of assets and any losses on the sale of assets are not deductible expenses.

11. Personal Expenses: Any expenses that are not directly related to the business are disallowable.

12. Repairs and Maintenance: Costs associated with the improvement or alteration of business premises or assets, as opposed to mere maintenance, are disallowable.

13. Legal Fees for Business Formation: The costs incurred in forming a business are not deductible. This includes legal fees, registration fees, and other related expenses.

14. Bad Debts: If a debt is identified as irrecoverable, the loss becomes a disallowable expense.

15. Loans to Directors or Shareholders: Any loans given to directors or shareholders are considered disallowable expenses.

16. Cost of Shares: The cost of purchasing shares or other securities is a disallowable expense.

17. Capital Expenditure: Expenses related to the acquisition of assets that have a useful life beyond the current tax year are disallowed.

18. Gifts and Donations: Except for certain charitable donations, all other gifts and donations are disallowable.

19. Entertainment for Employees: Costs incurred for entertaining employees, apart from occasional events, are disallowed.

20. Repayment of Loans: The capital element of loan repayments is disallowed, although interest may be allowable.

21. Costs Related to Personal Use of Business Assets: Any costs arising from the personal use of business assets are disallowable.

22. Insurance Premiums: Premiums for certain types of insurance policies, like those covering illness or personal accident, are disallowable.

23. Withdrawals from Business: Any money withdrawn from the business for personal use is a disallowable expense.

24. Subscription Fees: Subscription fees for non-trade or non-professional bodies are disallowed.

25. Unpaid Work: Value of work done by the business owner or their family, which hasn't been paid for, is disallowable.

26. Cost of Ordinary Clothing: The cost of everyday clothing is a disallowable expense, even if worn for work.

27. Private Health Insurance: Premiums paid for private health insurance are disallowable.

28. General Provisions: General provisions for future liabilities or losses are disallowed.

29. Costs of Incorporation: The costs associated with incorporating a business are disallowed.

30. Residential Accommodation: Costs associated with residential accommodation are disallowed unless it's a necessity for the business.

31. Traffic Fines: Fines incurred from traffic violations are disallowable.

32. Premiums on Life Insurance Policies: Premiums paid on life insurance policies are disallowable unless it’s a key person insurance for the benefit of the business.

33. Hobbies and Non-Business Activities: Expenses incurred from hobbies or non-business activities are disallowed, even if there is some business element involved.


Understanding the myriad of disallowable expenses is crucial for every business owner and taxpayer in the UK. This knowledge is not only beneficial for accurate financial reporting but also for making informed decisions that could impact the tax liability. As the financial landscape evolves, staying updated with the latest tax guidelines is imperative to ensure compliance and a smooth business operation. Through this comprehensive guide, we have endeavoured to provide a thorough insight into disallowable expenses as stipulated by the HMRC for the year 2023, aiding in demystifying the complex tax framework in the UK.

Practical Tips for Managing and Claiming Allowable Expenses

Navigating the realm of allowable expenses while working from home in the UK can initially seem daunting. However, with a methodical approach, it can be streamlined into a manageable process. This final segment of the article provides practical tips and guidelines on how to effectively manage, document, and claim your allowable expenses on your tax return.


  1. Organized Documentation: Maintain a thorough and organized documentation system for all your expenses. This includes keeping all receipts, bills, and invoices in a safe and accessible place. Digitalizing these documents can also make the process more manageable.

  2. Separate Personal and Business Expenses: It's advisable to keep your personal and business expenses separate to ensure a clear demarcation, which will be beneficial when claiming allowable expenses.

  3. Use of Accounting Software: Employing accounting software can significantly simplify the process of tracking and documenting your expenses. Many software options are tailored for self-employed individuals and small business owners.

Claiming Expenses

  1. Understanding Claimable Amounts: Acquaint yourself with the specifics of what amounts can be claimed for each type of expense. For instance, the flat rate deduction or the actual costs incurred.

  2. Consulting a Professional: If you are unsure about any aspect of claiming allowable expenses, consulting a tax professional can provide clarity and ensure you are compliant with tax laws.

  3. Utilizing the Simplified Expenses Scheme: If eligible, making use of the Simplified Expenses Scheme can simplify the claiming process, especially if you are self-employed.

Reporting on Tax Return

  1. Timely Submission: Ensure your tax return is submitted on time to avoid any penalties. The deadline for online submissions is January 31st following the end of the tax year.

  2. Detailed Breakdown: Provide a detailed breakdown of your expenses on your tax return. Being precise and clear in your reporting will help avoid any potential issues with HMRC.

  3. Claiming for Past Years: Remember, you can claim for this tax year and the four previous tax years. So, if you have not claimed allowable expenses in the past, it may not be too late.

Staying Updated

  1. Regular Review of Tax Laws: Tax laws and allowances may change over time. It's crucial to stay updated on any changes to ensure you are claiming the correct amounts.

  2. Engaging in Continuous Learning: Subscribe to newsletters, attend webinars, or engage in forums to keep abreast of the latest information regarding allowable expenses and tax laws in the UK.

By adhering to these practical tips and maintaining a systematic approach towards managing your allowable expenses, you can ensure that you are optimizing your tax position while remaining compliant with the UK tax laws. This not only helps in alleviating any financial strain but also contributes towards a seamless and efficient tax filing process


How a Personal Tax Accountant Can Help You Manage Allowable and Disallowable Expenses on a Tax Return in the UK

The Complexity of Tax Returns

Navigating the maze of tax returns can be a daunting task for anyone, especially if you're self-employed or running a small business. The UK tax system is complex, with various rules and regulations surrounding what you can and cannot claim as expenses. This is where a personal tax accountant comes into play. They can help you manage both allowable and disallowable expenses, ensuring that you're not paying more tax than you should be.

Expertise in Allowable Expenses

One of the primary roles of a personal tax accountant is to provide expert advice on what constitutes an allowable expense. From office supplies and travel costs to professional fees and marketing expenses, the list is extensive. An experienced accountant will guide you through each category, helping you identify which expenses can be deducted from your taxable income. They can also keep you updated on any changes in tax laws or regulations, ensuring that you're always in compliance.

Identifying Disallowable Expenses

While it's crucial to know what you can claim, it's equally important to understand what you can't. Disallowable expenses, such as client entertainment or fines, cannot be deducted from your taxable income. An accountant will help you distinguish between the two, preventing any costly mistakes that could result in penalties or additional tax liabilities.

Record-Keeping and Documentation

Proper record-keeping is essential for managing your expenses effectively. An accountant can set up a streamlined system for you, making it easier to track and document your expenses. They can also advise you on what kind of records you need to keep and for how long, ensuring that you're prepared in case of an audit.

Maximizing Tax Savings

By accurately identifying and categorizing your allowable and disallowable expenses, a personal tax accountant can help you maximize your tax savings. They can also provide strategic advice on timing certain expenditures to optimize tax benefits. For example, making a significant purchase at the end of the fiscal year can sometimes be more advantageous from a tax perspective.

Simplified Expenses and Flat Rates

The UK tax system offers the option of simplified expenses, which are flat rates used for specific types of expenses like vehicles and working from home. An accountant can help you decide whether this method is beneficial for you and can assist in the calculations required.

Cash Flow Management

Understanding your allowable and disallowable expenses also has a direct impact on your business's cash flow. An accountant can help you plan your spending more effectively, ensuring that you have sufficient funds to cover your tax liabilities.

Future Planning and Strategy

Beyond the immediate tax return, an accountant can help you plan for the future. Whether it's setting financial goals, budgeting for the next fiscal year, or planning significant business expenditures, an accountant's expertise can be invaluable. They can also help you understand how changes in your expenses can affect your tax liabilities in the future, allowing you to make more informed decisions.

Final Thoughts

Managing allowable and disallowable expenses is a critical aspect of filing a tax return in the UK. A personal tax accountant can provide the expertise, strategic advice, and peace of mind you need to navigate this complex task effectively. By helping you identify what you can and cannot claim, setting up robust record-keeping systems, and offering strategic financial planning, an accountant can be an invaluable asset in optimizing your tax position.

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