Subsistence Per HMRC – EIM30240

Employers are allowed to reimburse qualifying employee expenses at benchmark rates specified in the Income Tax (Approved Expenses) Regulations, without need approval from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). This exemption is discussed in EIM30240, which regards to subsistence payments at benchmark rates that would otherwise be deductible.

Rates are set as follows:

Minimum journey time = Maximum amount of meal allowance.

  • 5 hours = £5
  •  10 hours = £10
  • 15 hours (and ongoing at 8pm) = £25

Where a subsistence scale rate of £5 or £10 is paid and the qualifying journey – in respect of which it is paid – lasts beyond 8pm, a supplementary rate of £10 can be paid to cover the additional expenses necessarily incurred as a result of working late.

A meal is defined as a combination of food and drink and would take a normal dictionary meaning. Definition copied from the Cambridge Dictionary: “An occasion when food is served or eaten”.

Where employees are required to start early or finish late on a regular basis, the over 5 hour and 10 hour rate, whichever is applicable, can be paid provided that all the other qualifying conditions are satisfied.

Qualifying conditions

Benchmark scale rates must only be used where all the qualifying conditions are met. The qualifying conditions are:

  1. the travel must be in the performance of an employee’s duties or to a temporary place of work, on a journey that is not substantially ordinary commuting.
  2. the employee should be absent from his normal place of work or home for a continuous period in excess of five hours or ten hours.
  3. the employee should have incurred a cost on a meal (food and drink) after starting the journey and retained appropriate evidence of their expenditure.

There are also incidental overnight expenses which refers to personal (non-business) expenses incurred by an employee while travelling overnight on business.

Examples of incidental expenses are:

  1. buying newspapers
  2. paying for laundry
  3. phoning home

You don’t have to report or pay anything to HMRC if you pay no more than:

  • £5 per night for travel within the UK

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