If you or your employees do a lot of business travel, you’ll know that it can be hard to keep on top of all that expense. Management services like bookkeeping help you to keep track of what you’re spending, allowing you to claim your costs wherever appropriate and budget ahead when you need to.
What’s the benefit to you?
Whilst running up travel expenses is quick and easy, inputting them and keeping track of your expenditure is a time-consuming business. Most business owners and business travellers simply don’t have the time to sit at their desks putting in receipt information – and even when your expenses are tracked by handy apps, you may still need to produce paper receipts for certain purposes.
Many travellers do this sort of admin in the evenings or weekends because they are too busy to do it during the week – which, if you travel regularly, can become an annoying chore.
That’s why many businesses choose to manage expenses via a virtual assistant or equivalent resource. Instead of worrying about when you’re going to sort out your next expense claim, just pass all the relevant information to your management service and they will sort it out for you – accurate input and accurate calculation, which should mean that your expenses get paid faster and you have the information you need when the tax form next needs submitting.
What can you count as a travel expense?
Business travel is unavoidable for most people – whether you are making a trip to your supplier a few miles down the road, or flying to the other side of the world to open an office or close a deal. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) understands that you will have reasonable expenses when you travel solely for the purposes of your business, and so a range of travel costs is allowed for tax purposes. Bear in mind that there are different rules about what you can claim back and if you are unsure, it’s best to talk to your accountant about what’s permissible:
- Mileage for private car use – if you are using your own car to travel for business, you can claim a per-mile cost. This is currently set at 45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles, and at 25p per mile thereafter. Motorcycle miles can be claimed at 24p per mile for all business miles, and bicycle miles at 20p per mile for all miles. It might be worth bookmarking this page, which shows the current government rate for mileage.
- Using a hire car – if you hire a car in the UK for business purposes, and you don’t usually use your own car for business, you can claim costs for the hire of the car and for the fuel you have used. You can claim the same costs if you have to hire a car overseas for business purposes. In both cases, if you use the car partly for business and partly for private use, you can only claim for the part of your costs that are directly related to business purposes.
- Public transport – if you travel by bus, coach, train or plane, your ticket costs and other associated payments can be claimed.
- Incidental expenses – if they are incurred solely for business use, you may also claim for parking, toll, taxi fares, congestion charges and low-emission zone costs.
- Hotels – if you have to stay overnight as part of your business trip, you can claim the cost of the hotel. Should you arrive earlier or stay later than your business requires because you are taking some holiday, you can only claim for the part of your trip that is business related.
- Food and drink – as long as you buy food and drink after your business journey has begun, you can claim costs for this. HMRC has a dedicated expenses page that details the amount you can claim for food and drink, and which allows you to check what is allowable.
Why should a virtual assistant manage my business expenses?
There are three great reasons to get help with managing expenses. A virtual assistant can help because they:
1. Can save you time – no more hours wasted updating expenses forms and spreadsheets
2. Are more efficient – with a wide understanding of what can be claimed and what can’t, they can help you be more efficient with the information you need for your tax form.
3. Save you money – you only pay for the hours you use, so no need for the overheads associated with permanent staff.
You’ll be able to get into an easy routine. Collect your receipts and other proofs of payment and just send them over to your VA on your return. Everything else will be done for you, and you’ll be able to see a clear record of the costs you’ve incurred. A good virtual assistant business expense management service will also be able to flag up any consistencies, check where you may have been overcharged or not received the benefits you were expecting so that you can ensure you are being as cost-efficient as possible.