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Umbrella companies 'expenses policy' changed

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    Umbrella companies 'expenses policy' changed

    We have had a great deal of enquiries lately about umbrella companies 'expenses policies' changing so I thought I would offer a little clarification.

    Umbrella companies do not really have an 'expenses policy' as they can only process those expenses that will be allowed under HMR&C guidelines, the basic principals of which are that an additional cost must be incurred and it must be wholly and exclusively because of the contract. HMR&C do conduct random checks of individuals and if you do not have receipts to back up your expense claims you will be expected to pay up any tax owed as well as penalties and interest where applicable. Although the umbrella company would be investigated if a large number of individuals were over-claiming expenses, the liability would lie with the tax payer.

    Almost all umbrella companies have a dispensation (purely a tool for accountants so they can avoid filling in loads of forms) and some have scale rate dispensations; these were introduced by HMR&C themselves to save time. A scale rate dispensation allows a fixed amount to be claimed for subsistence when a worker is at a temporary location BUT the rules surrounding expenses still apply so there still has to be an additional cost to the individual and if you don't spend anything you can't claim anything. Within HMR&C claiming a scale rate payment when no cost was incurred was a disciplinary offence.

    It seems as though some contractors think they are 'losing money' as their umbrella company is no longer allowing scale rate payments (as they are processed as a tax benefit,this would have the result of reducing take home pay) - the likely reason for this is that the scale rate dispensation has been withdrawn which means that HMR&C are not happy with the way that the umbrella company is dealing with expense claims. You should be aware, if you are in this situation, that you are not 'losing money', you are in fact earning now what you should have been earning as the expenses you have been claiming have been disallowed and should never have been allowed in the first place.

    Umbrella companies usually have experts on hand to answer queries about expenses but they should also be able to back up their answers with excerpts from HMR&C manuals - at the end of the day the tax payer is responsible for their own tax so, if you are not sure of the advice you are given, contact HMR&C direct and ask them the question.
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    #2
    Shouldn't this have gone in the umbrella section of the forum
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      #3
      perhaps
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        #4
        But good general advice considering the ones that don't use search/go to the correct section
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          #5
          Originally posted by LisaContractorUmbrella View Post
          It seems as though some contractors think they are 'losing money' as their umbrella company is no longer allowing scale rate payments (as they are processed as a tax benefit,this would have the result of reducing take home pay) - the likely reason for this is that the scale rate dispensation has been withdrawn which means that HMR&C are not happy with the way that the umbrella company is dealing with expense claims.
          Woops. So which umbrella companies lost their scale rate dispensations then?

          What's the impact of this, do workers now have to supply receipts for their subsistence claims rather than just keeping the receipts in case they were audited?
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            #6
            I move it and make it a sticky (there are enough stickies in this forum).
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              #7
              Originally posted by Wanderer View Post
              Woops. So which umbrella companies lost their scale rate dispensations then?

              What's the impact of this, do workers now have to supply receipts for their subsistence claims rather than just keeping the receipts in case they were audited?
              Don't know which one (s) Wanderer but we've had a lot of calls over the last couple of weeks so I would guess it was one of the larger umbrella companies.

              Yep workers would now only be able to claim for the costs they actually incurred rather than a fixed daily amount
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                #8
                Originally posted by LisaContractorUmbrella View Post
                Almost all umbrella companies have a dispensation and some have scale rate dispensations. A scale rate dispensation allows a fixed amount to be claimed for subsistence when a worker is at a temporary location BUT the rules surrounding expenses still apply so there still has to be an additional cost to the individual and if you don't spend anything you can't claim anything.
                Imagine an employer has a scale rate dispensation from HMRC to allow £10 for lunch. Now lets say an employee is travelling to a temporary work place and incurs a cost of £2 on lunch with a receipt to prove the expense was incurred.

                Can the employer reimburse the employee a flat rate of £10 on expenses as per the scale rate dispensation OR would they pay them £2 and the other £8 would be treated as BIK and subject to PAYE/NI?

                My reading of the rules is that so long as there is an additional cost incurred (however small or large is irrelevant), the employee could claim the £10 specified in the scale rate dispensation .

                The time they could not claim is if they didn't actually incur any extra expense, eg, they took a packed lunch from home or they didn't buy anything at all.
                Free advice and opinions - refunds are available if you are not 100% satisfied.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by Wanderer View Post
                  Imagine an employer has a scale rate dispensation from HMRC to allow £10 for lunch. Now lets say an employee is travelling to a temporary work place and incurs a cost of £2 on lunch with a receipt to prove the expense was incurred.

                  Can the employer reimburse the employee a flat rate of £10 on expenses as per the scale rate dispensation OR would they pay them £2 and the other £8 would be treated as BIK and subject to PAYE/NI?

                  My reading of the rules is that so long as there is an additional cost incurred (however small or large is irrelevant), the employee could claim the £10 specified in the scale rate dispensation .

                  The time they could not claim is if they didn't actually incur any extra expense, eg, they took a packed lunch from home or they didn't buy anything at all.
                  It is the 'additional cost' element that is important here - basically if you buy and M&S sandwich every day for lunch and do exactly the same when travelling to a temporary workplace the costs will not be allowable but if you go home to eat lunch everyday but have to buy lunch when at a temporary location this is an additional cost and therefore allowable
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                    #10
                    Originally posted by LisaContractorUmbrella View Post
                    It is the 'additional cost' element that is important here - basically if you buy and M&S sandwich every day for lunch and do exactly the same when travelling to a temporary workplace the costs will not be allowable but if you go home to eat lunch everyday but have to buy lunch when at a temporary location this is an additional cost and therefore allowable
                    So if I spend £2, can I claim £10 as per the scale rate dispensation?
                    Free advice and opinions - refunds are available if you are not 100% satisfied.

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