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A Lightbulb Moment and the Domino Effect - Travel & Subsistence Claims for Self Employed Taxpayers

18 February 2019 By Michael O'Mahony

Why Getting it Right Will Save you Money!

The winter period is a good time to catch up on reading those books and journals you have been putting off all year.  I was getting into a routine of picking up mine every evening, flicking on my side table light and spending downtime on my chosen topic. Frustratingly, the lightbulb had blown so this evening I ventured to the local store to get a replacement, a very simple and easy task to do.


One small task, fixing my table lamp, leads to several more hours of ongoing knowledge maintenance and in turn provides a long list of creative professional ideas that I can share with clients and potential clients alike.

In my own experience during the past 19 years since I established the firm I have engaged and advised many clients operating in the consulting industry.The scope of their work is wide ranging though they are structured in much the same way.

I understand and appreciate that SME clients are often short of that valuable commodity, TIME , and some can become stressed and potentially lose out on thousands of euro due to poor record keeping and lack of understanding of the tax deduction rules. I cannot stress enough the importance of good practical advice at the start which can avoid a multiplication of damage over several years to an otherwise well run consulting business.

Travel is an integral part of the industry and with that comes, parking, trains and taxis though the more contentious  area in Irish tax law is 'travel and subsistence' which in industry speak means Meals AND Accommodation whilst on business travel..

Travel costs for self employed individuals operating through their own Limited Company are claimed in one of two ways:

Based on actual receipts OR published civil service rates. (NB: If you are an employee rather than self employed then expense claims operate in a similar manner).

This is an area where difficulties and contentious issues arise if the client is poorly advised from the start.

Not understanding or misinterpreting what is a 'business journey' and/or 'temporary workplace', can potentially cost the uninformed client many thousands in unpaid taxes,  penalties and interest.


Many consultants have a home office and travel to site to attend to clients in Ireland or overseas, when necessary. The biggest area for Revenue Commissioners focus is establishing where the taxpayers 'normal place of work' is located. This is not always clear cut and can be interpreted differently by Revenue and the Taxpayer. Taxpayers often make assumptions and these are not always accurate. Once the 'normal place of work' is established and defined in the particular case then it becomes the starting point for assessing the validity of travel and subsistence claims.

There are other basic rules that a client should be aware of to avoid the stress caused by a Revenue Enquiry or Audit. More about this topic in a later article though the penalties can be severe if you get it wrong!

Travel outside of Ireland carries additional considerations and there are separate international rates that can be claimed depending on the location. London, for example is more expensive to stay than other UK cities so the claim rates are higher to compensate.

If you would like to hire us to advise on this matter either to set-up or review your financial systems then you can contact me at

Tagged With: Advice, Tax, Travel and Subsistence