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Can I have a Tax Free Lunch?

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Business People Having Meal Together

Let’s look at the options….

Exemption for Canteen Meals

Employees can be provided with free or subsidised meals provided generally to employees served on the business premises where the following 3 conditions are met:

  1. The meals are provided on a reasonable scale
  2. That all employees or all those at a specific location may obtain free or subsidised meals
  3. If the meals are provided in a restaurant or hotel at a time when meals are being served to guests/clients part of the dining area is designated for employees

Not everyone needs to use the facility they just need the option to use it and its is possible for senior management to have superior meals.

This exemption is not available where only select employees are able to get a free lunch.

HMRC are happy to accept Tea and Coffee as trivial benefits that can be ignored.

Benchmark Subsistance

Since April 2009 employers have been able to pay their employees HMRC approved flat rate allowances referred to as Benchmark Subsistance, the rates are:

  • £5 if you buy a breakfast and start your business journey before 6am
  • £5 if you’re out of the office on business for more than 5 hours, and buy one meal
  • £10 if you’re out of the office on business for more than 10 hours, and buy 2 meals
  • £15 if your business trip keeps you beyond 8pm, and you buy an evening meal

So £15 is the maximum

You can only claim if:

  1. travel is required as part of your dutues or you are working at a temporary work place
  2. you are away from your work place or home for more than 5 hours
  3. you are expected to pay for food and drink after starting your journey

Meal Vouchers

Vouchers can be issued tax free but only up to the value of 15p per working day and the voucher must be non-transferable and used for meal only.

Travel Expenses

I have separate blog on this topic http://stevejbicknell.com/2013/02/13/what-travel-expenses-will-the-taxman-allow/

steve@bicknells.net


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