When you’re self-employed, your business and personal finances are tied together. Having separate accounts can make your Self Assessment easier each year, but you’re still spending your own money on business expenses.

But you can get some of that money back, in a way. Certain business expenses can be tax deductible, meaning you pay less tax because of those purchases. In this guide, we’ll explore:

  • What does it mean to claim expenses?
  • What can you claim expenses on?
  • How much can you claim?
  • How do you claim self-employed HGV driver expenses?
  • How can you sort your expenses with the Countingup app?

What does it mean to claim expenses?

Sole traders and small business owners would be at a disadvantage if they had to pay full taxes on top of running their business with no relief. Being able to claim expenses for the cost of running that business is the government's way of making business ownership more desirable.

But why does the government want more businesses? Essentially, a business helps to stimulate the economy. By making business ownership more accessible, people are able to create a business more easily.

What can you claim expenses on?

There’s quite a long list of what you can claim as an expense, so we won’t be able to cover it all here. Almost anything can be classed as a business expense, but you have to prove it.

Here are some of the main expenses you can deduct from your taxes as a self-employed HGV driver. You might also want to check out the Government website for other options.

LGV licence

When you become a HGV driver, there are several hoops you need to jump through. These include various training and qualifications to ensure you are safe to do the job. All this is tax deductible.

This includes all aspects of gaining your licence, including the bills and cost of photos. You can claim all this as a business expense, because a HGV licence (and costs related to getting one) isn’t something a person would ordinarily do outside of work.

Certificate of professional competence

A Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) is a type of document that allows you to drive certain long vehicles, like a lorry, bus, or coach. The qualification needs 35 hours of training every five years to stay valid, so don’t forget to keep it updated.

If you’re paying for your CPC out of your own pocket, then this is another cost that can be claimed back as a business expense.

Clothing

It may seem odd to put clothing here, but we don’t mean typical clothes. Some HGV drivers need to buy hi-vis jackets and steel-toed boots. These items are clearly work wear, and any items you buy for work are tax deductible.

If you try to claim standard everyday clothes as a business purchase, you could have the claim denied, or even be hit with a fine.

Lunches

This can be a tricky one, but if you eat lunch away from home (due to work) you might be able to write it off. Some sole traders are eligible for a ‘midday meal allowance’, and HGV drivers fit into this category.

Of course, you might not be able to claim the entire cost of your meal. It all depends on cost, and whether it’s a reasonable choice. For example, a five star meal would be seen as unreasonable.

How much can you claim?

So now you know roughly what you can claim, you might be wondering how much you can claim in any given year. Unfortunately, this gets revised each year and it rarely stays the same.

A general rule of thumb is try not to overspend in the hopes of reducing your taxes. Instead, only buy what you need for your business. Allowable expenses may be greater in some years than in others, which is absolutely fine.

If you’re consistently claiming a lot in your expenses, HMRC may choose to inspect your purchases and see if your expenses are genuinely business related. If they’re not, you could be hit with a hefty fine.

How do you claim self-employed HGV driver expenses?

Claiming expenses isn’t that tricky. In fact, the hardest thing you have to do is keep a record of your spending. That could be a receipt or bank statement, showing your purchase of anything you’re claiming.

Simply total up all your expenses for that tax year, and put it on your Self Assessment tax return. It’s a relatively simple process, but if you do need a hand the Countingup app can help.

It has a great automatic categorisation feature which is incredibly useful for keeping track of your expenses.

You don’t need to send off your proof with your Self Assessment tax return, but you should keep hold of it in case it’s needed. In fact, we have an article about keeping records for you to check out.

How can you sort your expenses with the Countingup app?

If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to organise your spending, it might be time to switch to the Countingup app.

This incredible two-in-one business current account and accounting software is designed to make your finances incredibly simple. One of the ways the app does this is with its automatic expense categorisation feature.

This feature is designed to sort all your spending into HMRC-compliant categories, which makes it much easier to complete your Self Assessment each year.

It also boasts a couple of other features (like in-app invoicing) to make your financial management easier. Interested in trying out what Countingup has to offer?

Download the app for free today — you won’t regret it!

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