Tax Insider Tax Cases: Home As Place Of Business - Travel To Other Places Of Business Not Allowable

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Summary

A self-employed flying instructor was not entitled to a deduction for travel expenses from his place of business at home to two airports, which were also considered to be places of business. The expenses were not ‘wholly and exclusively’ for the purposes of his trade, profession or vocation.

Background

The taxpayer, a self-employed flying instructor and examiner, gave flying lessons and examined pilots invariably at two airports (i.e. Shoreham and Bournemouth). He operated the business from home, and travelled by car between his home (in Haywards Heath) and the airports. The taxpayer did not have an office or other accommodation at either airport or elsewhere. The taxpayer claimed the cost of travel between his home and the airports in his tax return for 2006/07. 

HMRC decided that the taxpayer was not entitled to deduct his travel expenses on the ground that they were not wholly and exclusively incurred for the purposes of his business. HMRC also raised discovery assessments disallowing travel expenses for other tax years. The taxpayer appealed. 

The taxpayer relied on the case Horton v Young [1972] Ch 157. It was argued that he was an itinerant worker in the same way as Mr Horton, as he went from one airport to another, and that the journeys from his home to the airports were allowable. HMRC contended that the taxpayer’s home was not his base of operations (i.e. not within the facts of the Horton case); his home was a place of business, but he also had places of business at the airports.

Decision

The First-tier Tribunal (FTT) applied the statutory test in ITTOIA 2005, s 34 (and its predecessor legislation in ICTA 1988, s 74), and considered whether the taxpayer’s travel expenses between his home and the two airports were incurred ‘wholly and exclusively’ for the purposes of his business. 

The FTT accepted that (whilst there was no separate office at his house) the taxpayer’s home was a place of business. However, it was considered that the taxpayer also had places of business at Shoreham and Bournemouth airports, where he worked almost exclusively. This was because (in contrast with the circumstances in Horton) he attended them “regularly and predictably” to carry out his professional activities. Whilst the taxpayer was only contacted at home to arrange flying lessons or examinations, this did not mean that the airports where he invariably carried out those activities were not places of business.

The Upper Tribunal (UT) decision in Samadian v Revenue & Customs [2014] UKUT 13 (TCC) was among the cases considered by the FTT. In Samadian, the UT stated: “travel expenses for journeys between home (even where the home is used as place of business) and places of business are treated as non-deductible (other than in very exceptional circumstances…)”. 

The tribunal in White considered that the taxpayer's position was much closer to that of Dr Samadian than to that of Mr Horton. The taxpayer, like Dr Samadian, did not have a fixed presence at the places where he carried on his business (i.e. the airports), but he attended them regularly and predictably. 

The FTT concluded that the travel expenses between the taxpayer’s home and the airports were not incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of his business. The taxpayer’s appeal was dismissed.

Comment

The tribunal's decision underlines that it is not sufficient to have a place of business at home. If there is another place of business elsewhere, the travel expenses between those places of business will not generally satisfy the ‘wholly and exclusively’ test. 

The facts in White were in contrast to the Horton case, where Mr Horton’s only place of business was at his home.  

White v Revenue & Customs [2014] UKFTT 214 (TC) 

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