Contractors' Questions: Is UK accommodation claimable if I live abroad?

Contractor’s Question: I’m a British citizen permanently based in South Africa , looking at a 12-month contract in the UK. My wife will travel with me to the UK. We will travel back home on a regular basis and use short term accommodation while in the UK. What, if any, accommodation expenses can I legitimately claim?

Expert’s Answer: Generally-speaking, if you are living away from home while maintaining your house in your home country, then your living away from home costs can be counted as a business expense. This applies across Europe.

However in the UK, we have recently introduced new legislation that said if there is Supervision, Direction or Control (SDC) in your contract, over you and by any party, then you were not allowed to claim business expenses.

So in this specific case, if you (the contractor) has SDC in their contract, then you would not be able to claim accommodation costs as a business expense. However, if you are truly working independently, for example if you have your own limited company but fall outside of the IR35 regulations, then you would be able to claim genuine business expenses through their company, and you would be able to claim accommodation costs as a business expense.

Again though, this would only be possible if you fall outside IR35, there is no SDC anywhere in the contract and you are maintaining your home in South Africa and paying for secondary accommodation in the UK.

The expert was Michelle Reilly at 6CATS International, a supplier of international contractor management solutions to the recruitment industry.

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Written by Michelle Reilly

Michelle Reilly is the CEO of 6CATS International and Founder of 6CATSPRO. With over 20 years experience in developing and managing contractor workforce solutions, she is an expert in international tax compliance.
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