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Self-employed travel to different office locations

My client went self-employed for six months and during that time, worked in five different offices.

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My client worked for six months in five different offices. She would work in one office for a week or two and then cover for another employee in a different office for anything from a few days to three weeks at a time. Is she able to claim for travel to these different offices? Thank you in advance!

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By Anonymous.
30th Jun 2020 11:50

Five different offices of the same business or 5 different businesses?

If someone provides "cover for another employee", I would have thought that they themselves could be an employee, albeit short term.

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By Andrew1961
30th Jun 2020 11:58

Thanks for the request for clarification.

Five different offices for the same firm, but she worked for different firms during that period, but the different firms had one office. She's not claiming travel for those.

She worked as a locum and covered several different people's caseloads whilst they were on holiday (remember holidays?) in the firm's five offices.

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Replying to Andrew1961:
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By Anonymous.
30th Jun 2020 12:14

Andrew1961 wrote:

Thanks for the request for clarification.

Five different offices for the same firm, but she worked for different firms during that period, but the different firms had one office. She's not claiming travel for those.

She worked as a locum and covered several different people's caseloads whilst they were on holiday (remember holidays?) in the firm's five offices.

Have you run the facts through the HMRC employment status pages?

https://www.gov.uk/employment-status/selfemployed-contractor

If someone is standing in for an employee, I think you'd need to start by distinguishing what they do from what the employee was doing if you (and, indeed, the "employer") are holding out for self-employed tax status.

The PAYE risk is with the "employer" but I'm not sure that your client is able to claim self-employed expenses if they have been employed.

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By Gone Sailing
30th Jun 2020 13:09

So the question is about self employed travel, not whether self employed or not.
The key phrase is whether the travel is "regular and predictable".
There's obviously a peripatetic nature of a locum's work.
One or two weeks here there and everywhere.
I vote allow.

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Replying to Gone Sailing:
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By Andrew1961
30th Jun 2020 13:22

Yes, I feel she is self-employed and worked for various clients in the six months. She submitted invoices weekly.
She did a three week spell at one place, occasional two-weeks and a several one week or part weeks.
There was occasional travel to clents' houses and travel between offices during the day which would be allowable as were not paid by the law firms and not claimed by my client on invoices.

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Replying to Andrew1961:
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By raycad
06th Jul 2020 15:36

If you had asked me this question a few years ago I would have voted "allowable" without any hesitation whatsoever. However, following a sequence of Tax Case decisions in the last five or six years, I have to say that this whole area is a real minefield now. You'll see why if you click on the following link (with full attribution to the author, Mike Truman):

https://www.taxinsider.co.uk/oh-doctor-doctor-ta

This said, the common theme in the cases cited was that the medic in question held an employment and the other work undertaken was either directly or indirectly (sometimes quite remotely) related to that employment. So, on balance, where the ONLY work being undertaken is locum work (of a self-employed nature) then, provided that the place of work never became "settled and regular", I would still in all good faith claim the travel costs to and from home.

Incidentally, I note that you mentioned "law firms" in your last post and so your client would appear to be a legal locum, rather than a medical locum. Nevertheless the principles are precisely the same.

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Replying to raycad:
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By Gone Sailing
06th Jul 2020 15:46

@raycad
You appear to citing a case which supports 'allowable':
"on balance, where the ONLY work being undertaken is locum work (of a self-employed nature) then, provided that the place of work never became "settled and regular", I would still in all good faith claim the travel costs to and from home"

And the employment related aspect muddies the waters and doesn't make it a 'clean' case.

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Replying to Gone Sailing:
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By raycad
06th Jul 2020 21:37

What I was trying to say that, in the absence of any "muddying of the waters", such as a simultaneous employment, your client would, IMO, be entitled to rely on the High Court dictum in Horton vs Young, referred to in the link I gave. The other decisions were all at FTT and UTT level and so do not "outscore" Horton vs Young.

Clearly, and as others have commented, one must, after weighing up all the factors, make a highly subjective judgement on whether the self-employment really is carried on from home. If one concludes that it is (AND a simultaneous employment is not in play to complicate the issue) then I see no reason why the travel expenses in the circumstances you have outlined cannot be claimed.

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Replying to raycad:
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By Andrew1961
07th Jul 2020 09:37

Thank you so much for your assistance. There was no other employment in play at the time.

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By SteveHa
06th Jul 2020 17:13

Notwithstanding the status issue, I suggest a read through Samadian.

http://financeandtax.decisions.tribunals.gov.uk//judgmentfiles/j7024/TC0...

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Replying to SteveHa:
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By Gone Sailing
06th Jul 2020 18:26

Some allowed, some not, nothing new here.
"regular and predictable" is the key.

An electrician has a lock up. They are not allowed to claim from home to the lock up, fine.
Eg. 1 They go from the lock up to a customer, the job takes 2 weeks. Arguably regular and predictable for 2 weeks, job finished, doesn't go there again, have HMRC objected to such a travel claim?
Eg.2 They go to the same customer from the lock up 2 days a week for 6 months on a fixed maintenance contract. Regular and predictable. Not allowable.

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Replying to Gone Sailing:
By SteveHa
06th Jul 2020 18:53

The point of referencing Samadian is not to give a definitive answer, but more towards the thought process necessary to get to the answer.

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Replying to SteveHa:
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By Gone Sailing
06th Jul 2020 20:01

fair enough

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