Contractors’ Questions: Can I expense a CV and LinkedIn review?

Contractor’s Question: Is a £100-£150 CV rewrite service something I can claim as ‘marketing services’ if I’m a limited company director? Would a LinkedIn review be the same in HMRC’s eyes -- something my PSC can claim is a legitimate business expense?

Or does the company simply buy both of these services outright, and not get involved with tax deductions? I was reading that HMRC can be strict around training costs and claims, but surely expenditure on a professional CV and LinkedIn rewriter is just about repackaging my existing skills; it’s nothing to do with acquiring new ones, is it? And what about a LinkedIn premium subscription, also on my company?

Expert’s Answer: You’re right in that HMRC are fairly strict around training costs.  However, the items you mention above are more likely to be classified as ‘marketing and advertising expenses.’ As with all expenses, you’ll need, of course, to make sure that these are for – and demonstrable as being for -  the trade of the business.

You do need to be careful with CV rewrite services. CVs can be perceived as being for you personally, and consequently associated with direct employment – even though this could be argued either way based on the content of the CV! So it may be worth considering both a personal CV (if needed) and a professional (contractor) CV. 

In terms of your question about a CV re-write, a professional (i.e. business-focused) CV from a marketing/advertising perspective would most likely satisfy HMRC requirements. In this instance, electing to engage a service to re-draft your professional CV would not only meet your immediate requirements, but could also be subsequently adapted by yourself at no additional expense to create a limited company portfolio – for instance, on LinkedIn, or other business-related websites. 

This would then be ‘wholly, necessary and exclusively’ for the trade of your company. The document itself can then include items such as:

  • details of the services your limited company supplies
  • recent projects/assignments completed
  • a skills table
  • qualifications/certifications related to your professional output
  • professional recommendations accrued during the time that you have been trading.

We’ve alluded to LinkedIn above, and also suggested that our advice would be valid for any other recruitment or business networking service. We’d suggest that any payment for the LinkedIn subscription – or any other professional/business network that you choose to subscribe to - should be in your company’s name as a legitimate business expense. HMRC may try to argue that your company is providing you with a benefit-in-kind if your business is not directly paying for your subscription to LinkedIn, or indeed, any other business-related service to which you subscribe.

Both of these items are essential to business growth and productivity as they are key in winning new contracts. Any agency or end-client will almost certainly view your profile before making a decision and it will be the first impression they have of your company, your skills, and what you can offer them. Having your CV professionally reviewed to ensure that your business stands out from the crowd will be money well spent!

The expert was Louisa Drewett, director of contractor accountants Aardvark Accounting.

Wednesday 13th Nov 2019
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Written by Louisa Drewett

Louisa Drewett, has been working in accountancy for over 10 years, specifically with contractors and small businesses. She will go the extra mile to make sure you are on the right track and get to understand what you want to get out of your business.

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