Beware of scams

We are aware of scams coming from email and social media where people try to impersonate us. We will never ask you for money or your bank details. Learn more about what to look out for and how to protect yourself.

Understanding what expenses you can claim for your business

Understanding expenses

Without understanding the differences between business and personal expenses, you run the risk of paying more tax than you need to.

Anthony Andrews, Content Marketing Manager at Intuit QuickBooks, provides you with a few pointers to make sure you don’t get stung by a hefty tax bill on January 31st.

What counts as business expenses?

A very important point about completing the Self-Assessment is working out what constitutes as an actual expense attached to your work and what doesn’t.

Put quite simply, a business expense is any cost that is exclusively attributed to work purposes.

What expenses can you claim?

HMRC is actually quite flexible on this, so long as you can defend the item’s inclusion as being essential to your business. Typical examples include:

  • Travel expenses
  • Rent
  • Bank charges
  • Delivery charges
  • Equipment costs
  • Stock
  • Utility costs for business premises
  • Telephone fees
  • Stationery & postage

HMRC has also accepted some seemingly outrageous tax return claims. One example is the claim of a 23-year-old British woman employed by a gentleman’s club. She filed her boa constrictor for a tax reduction. It was approved after HMRC verified that the reptile was part of her act.

When it comes to those grey areas of expenses, you’ll need to convince the HMRC as to why that cost is essential to running your business. Otherwise, you should know that the following are included in items that cannot generally be claimed:

  • Parking/speeding violations
  • Tuition
  • Childcare services
  • Gym memberships
  • Client entertainment


Learn with Start Up Loans and help get your business off the ground

Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with the Open University on being an entrepreneur.

Our free  Learn with Start Up Loans courses opens in new window include:

Plus free courses on finance and accounting, project management, and leadership.


Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

Feeling Inspired?