When working longer hours, you will naturally need to have lunch or other meals during your working day (known as subsistence) and it would be tempting to put this down as a business expense.
Unfortunately, since people need to eat to survive regardless of whether or not they are working, subsistence is not an allowable expense.
Subsistence can become an allowable expense if the food purchased was necessary as a result of travelling to a location that is not the standard location of work, in the same way as claiming mileage expenses. Please note the food must be purchased as part of the travelling. For example, a meal at a restaurant or takeaway while travelling to, from or at the location and not a pre-packed lunch prepared for the journey.
If a company pays for subsistence for employees, they can pay up to rates found here on the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) website. Paying more without agreement with HMRC would likely result in additional tax and National Insurance Contributions for the employee to pay.
Taking employees out for a meal is also allowable for tax purposes, however, this falls into entertainment costs instead of subsistence. Taking a client out for a meal is also entertainment, but is disallowed for claiming tax as this falls into client entertainment. Entertainment expenses will be covered in a future blog.
If you would like any further advice on claiming subsistence, or other expenses you can claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.