Several of your clients and their employees are working from home due to the coronavirus lockdown. If any of them need to travel to the office, e.g. to collect post, can they be paid a mileage expense tax free?


Your client owns a small company that employs ten people at its office. Since the lockdown began, your client required all the employees (including him) to work from home. Whilst the office is closed, your client has had to travel back and forth a couple of times a week, to collect post and certain files. He has asked if he can get the company to pay him a tax-free mileage allowance at 45p per mile for these journeys.


You will be aware that there have been a number of measures introduced to help businesses cope with the ongoing crisis. However, these measures do not change the underlying tax rules. It is therefore necessary to consider whether the home to office travel constitutes “ordinary commuting” in your client’s case. Usually, travel between a home and a place of work will be ordinary commuting, meaning an allowance cannot be paid without tax and NI consequences. But these are unusual times.

Two workplaces

A further rule regarding travel expenses is that travel between two places of work, e.g. a builder travelling between two sites, is not commuting and therefore a tax-free allowance can be paid. HMRC has previously conceded that a home can become a place of work, saying “ The current rules only allow home to workplace travel to be treated as being travel between two workplaces (and therefore not taxable) in very limited circumstances. In particular, it makes a distinction between those who work at home by choice and those who are objectively required to do so .”

In our opinion, being required to work from home during the lockdown creates an objective requirement, and so your client should be able to get the company to pay him a mileage allowance with no tax or NI.

Pro advice

HMRC has not confirmed its view on this at the time of publication, so our advice is to get your client to prepare the usual travel expenses claims and mileage logs but hold off paying them until HMRC makes a formal comment. We will keep you updated as soon as this happens.

Our view is that an allowance should be payable tax free, but it would be prudent to hold off making any payment until HMRC publishes its view. However, your client could prepare the necessary claim forms in the meantime.

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