Lunch expenses
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    Default Lunch expenses

    Hi there, I had a (hopefully) relatively simple question...

    Some context
    I work as a contractor on software projects. It's fairly typical work: usually about 3 months on-site before moving onto a new contract.

    I've worked in the industry for a number of years, and like all other contractors I've worked with, I keep my lunch receipts + expense them.

    I do this by:
    Adding them up at the end of every month
    Creating a bulk expense in FreeAgent for the amount
    Then reimburse myself.

    The problem
    My (new) accountant is now telling me I need to add lunch expenses individually. Or at least take a photo of each receipt and upload it to FreeAgent.

    This amount of work for a 3-4 lunch receipt seems nuts.

    Also this is contrary to my previous accountant, who said I could expense them in bulk and reimburse myself (so long as I kept the receipts for 6 years, as normal).

    Questions
    1. Is this correct? Do I really have to submit each day's lunch expense individually?
    2. Are there any software or apps anyone can recommend to take photos and merge them into a single file? Bonus points for FreeAgent integration!

    Many thanks in advance for your help,
    Tom

  2. #2

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    Take photos of your receipts and expense them properly, or pay your accountant / book-keeper to do this for you. It's not exactly a hardship is it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by funkychicken View Post

    Questions
    1. Is this correct? Do I really have to submit each day's lunch expense individually?
    2. Are there any software or apps anyone can recommend to take photos and merge them into a single file? Bonus points for FreeAgent integration!
    There is a FreeAgent app that does exactly this... open up the app, put in the details (date, amount, category), add the photo.

    All done before and synched to the cloud before you can say 'ham and cheese sandwich".

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    You do realise that you only need to produce receipts to claim if its above the daily allowance & its genuinely staying overnight away from home otherwise just keep the receipts somewhere safe no need to produce unless asked to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by funkychicken View Post
    My (new) accountant is now telling me I need to add lunch expenses individually. Or at least take a photo of each receipt and upload it to FreeAgent.

    This amount of work for a 3-4 lunch receipt seems nuts.
    This i what I do every lunchtime. But I do it via the app, literally takes seconds to snap take a photo of the receipt in the app. Tbh it seems a lot less of a hassle than trying to add up 20 odd receipts in one go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by uk contractor View Post
    You do realise that you only need to produce receipts to claim if its above the daily allowance & its genuinely staying overnight away from home otherwise just keep the receipts somewhere safe no need to produce unless asked to.
    Can you clarify this a little. You can claim the 5 for incidental overnight expenses regardless - no need for receipts or anything, so long as it's 5 and you're staying away. But, in addition to that, you can claim specific business costs so long as you can prove it.

    You do NOT need to be staying away to claim lunch - so long as you're at a temporary workplace, you're free to claim any reasonable sums for lunch.

    OP, personally, I use a company credit card for all day to day expenses like this - makes it much easier to reconcile, means I can't really forget things and also provides proof of purchase in the event that I lose the receipt. I then go through Free Agent and upload my receipts to each line item. It's slightly faffy compared to your method, but I feel much more confident that I could justify everything during an audit - rather than going "Ah, yeah - I added up all these receipts here. No, I don't know why it's 1.85 out - maybe I missed one. Hmm, hang on. No, I'm not sure about the VAT on that one"
    Last edited by vwdan; 14th February 2018 at 08:57.

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    Can anyone recommend a decent app that's not related to FreeAgent which does this? I find myself having to do this manually every 6 months or so because I don't get around to it at which point it becomes a real PITA.
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    Quote Originally Posted by b0redom View Post
    Can anyone recommend a decent app that's not related to FreeAgent which does this? I find myself having to do this manually every 6 months or so because I don't get around to it at which point it becomes a real PITA.
    You mean an app that will give you a kick up the arse and do things in time so not to create a mess of your own making? Beats me. I'd stick to Grindr if I were you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by northernladuk View Post
    You mean an app that will give you a kick up the arse and do things in time so not to create a mess of your own making? Beats me. I'd stick to Grindr if I were you.
    But then, surely, you'd be sitting in someone elses mess?

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    There’s no need to enter them individually in FreeAgent but you really should have some kind of record of each individual expense IMO.

    As lunches should be associated with business travel or travel to a temporary workplace in order to be claimable I would keep some kind of travel and subsistence log.

    What I used to do was keep a basic spreadsheet that recorded my journeys including any travel costs (train, mileage, parking etc) and any subsistence.

    I’d then aggregate these monthly into FreeAgent.

    This doesn’t strike me as being any different to any other company that operates an expense claim process. Employees keep a log of their travel and other expenses with receipts and once a month submit a claim form to their employer who reimburses them. Employer just records the reimbursement in their books and files the claim form.

    I no longer do it this way as I mostly work from home so just enter individual expenses into FreeAgent.

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