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Staying with friends during business trip

Can you claim the £25 scale rate?

Maybe HMRC are over-complicating their guidance, but I always thought the £25 scale rate for subsistence during qualifying journeys (lasting more than 15 hours and ongoing at 8pm) from 6/4/16 was allowed for all overnight stays. It doesn't matter whether you stay at an hotel or with friends.

Now I'm not so sure, as EIM30240 (bottom paragraph) says no scale rate for staying with friends has been allowed since 2009. Are they just referring to bespoke rates or does this include the generally allowed £25 rate too? It says "The travel rules still apply to actual costs of subsistence incurred while staying with friends and family". Does this mean you can only claim actuals whilst staying with friends? I don't see how as it would effectively disallow the scale rate for all the other costs incurred during the day before you even darkened their door.

It then refers specifically to EIM30073, which says the employee is entitled to claim for a qualifying expense but that no scale rate can be agreed. Again, is this just bespoke rates?

The Income Tax (Approved Expenses) Regulations 2015 are commendably short at just one page and make no reference whatsoever to staying with friends or family, so I don't see why they even need to mention it.

Is this yet another example of HMRC putting their own spin on legislation or am I getting all worked up about nothing? I'm hopeful it's the latter, but I don't see why they need to address this point if the £25 rate is available anyway.

Please put me out of my misery someone.

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