Business Advisory

What are allowable expenses in a Limited Company?

Bright Beany 17 small By Max Polkey

Pexels kampus production 5920774

As a limited company owner, you can claim tax relief on business expenses, so knowing what you can claim for (and what you can't) is really important to make your business tax efficient.

In this article we look at the allowable expenses your limited company can claim for tax purposes, how you can claim and what you should keep an eye on to make sure you are compliant with HMRC.

What can be claimed?

When it comes to claiming business expenses for your limited company, there are a number of rules you should follow:

  1. You can only claim for the expenses you incur wholly and exclusively during the everyday running of your business.
  2. You can’t claim for expenses that have a dual purpose for business and personal use. For example, if you decide to extend a business trip abroad for leisure purposes, you can only claim for the business days, not the additional leisure days.
  3. Business expenses can be paid through your company’s bank account, or you can reclaim the costs of business expenses paid by you and later reimbursed via your company.
  4. The majority of limited company expenses can be offset against your company’s corporation tax liability – although there are some exceptions, including business entertainment.
  5. You need to maintain an accurate record of expenses, including VAT receipts, so you can justify what is being claimed for if you’re queried about them in the future.

How can you claim expenses?

You can either pay your limited company’s expenses straight from your business account or as a reimbursed expense if you need to pay something out of your own pocket.

Employees can claim expenses too, so it’s worth creating a company expense policy to make sure everyone understands how much they’re allowed to spend and where.

You need to keep track of your business expenses. Without accurate record keeping HMRC could reject your expense claims.

Using an expenses app, like Xero Expenses, is a great way to make claiming expenses quick and easy - capturing images of receipts on the go, utilising their analyse tool and getting them quickly approved and paid.

So what are some examples of allowable claims?

  • 01

    Health check and eye test expenses

    If your employees use computer screens as a big part of their job, then they can claim eye tests as well as health checks as limited company expenses. The cost of prescription glasses or contact lenses can also be claimed as business expenses but only if they’re used strictly for screen-based work as part of their employment.

  • 02

    Business insurance expenses

    You can claim the cost of your business insurance policies as limited company expenses, as long as they’re used strictly for business purposes. Business insurances including public liability insurance, employers liability, professional indemnity insurance and contents insurance are all allowable expenses.

  • 03

    Advertising, marketing and PR expenses

    You work hard to shout about your services through your advertising, marketing and PR activity. Whether it is a one-off cost or an ongoing fee, if the investment has been used solely for business purposes, then this can be claimed as one of your limited company expenses.

  • 04

    Accommodation expenses

    If you’re on a business trip and have to stay overnight away from your home, you can claim the accommodation costs as an expense. You can also claim the costs incurred by the food and drink as travel and subsistence costs.

  • 05

    Bank charges

    The bank fees that are charged to your business accounts, including credit card and loan interest, can be claimed as business expenses.

  • 06

    Childcare expenses

    Childcare costs aren’t directly linked to the management of your business and as such, can’t be claimed as a business expense.

  • 07

    Use of home as office

    If your home is the heart of your business, you’re able to claim a percentage of your household costs and utility bills as business expenses. This cost could be claimed as a standard rate per week or by working out what rooms you use for your business needs and the amount of time they’re used for work purposes. You’re also able to claim the costs of lighting, heating, postage and printing costs and accountancy and legal services as limited company expenses too – as long as they’re used solely for business purposes.

  • 08

    Gifts, entertainment and trivial benefits

    You don’t need to pay tax and national insurance or let HMRC know about a gift or benefit for your employee (otherwise known as a trivial benefit) if the following rules apply:

    • It’s not set out in the terms of their contract
    • It’s not a reward for their performance or work
    • It isn’t cash or a cash voucher
    • It cost you £50 or less to provide

    If you offer employees gifts or benefits that don’t match all of the criteria above, then you’ll need to pay tax on them.

  • 09

    Professional subscription expenses

    Occupation-specific magazine subscriptions, journals and books can be claimed as a limited company expense. For example, if you’re the editor of a photography magazine and you have a subscription to a rival title, you should be able to claim the cost of this as a business expense as it’s a way for your business to keep up to speed on industry trends and your competition.

  • 10

    Phone bills

    Work phone contracts and broadband payments can be claimed as a limited company expense. If your mobile phone contract is in your company’s name and used solely for business purposes, you can claim the entire bill as a business expense.

    If it’s a personal contract, you’ll need to separate the business and personal use out and claim the business-related expenses only. You can also claim limited company expenses for the business calls you’ve made from your home phone line.

  • 11

    Annual staff party expenses

    The costs of entertaining your employees can be claimed as a business expense as long as it’s an annual event open to all staff members and costs less than £150 per person. This could be your annual Christmas party or a summer BBQ, the same rules apply.

  • 12

    Equipment expenses

    From computers and software to scanners and printers, the equipment that’s necessary to help you carry out your role as a limited company director can be claimed as company expenses. Office furniture, such as chair and desks, can also be claimed for as long as it’s used mainly for business purposes.

  • 13

    Professional development expenses

    Personal development and training courses can be claimed as limited company expenses, just make sure you check it’s eligible before hitting the books. For example, if you’re an accountant, any training you undergo to become a chartered accountant is an allowable expense.

  • 14

    Travel expenses

    Travel expenses can be claimed as limited company expenses if:

    • You’re responsible for paying the travel costs
    • The travel is necessary for work purposes and you need to be present at the destination in question for business purposes. (This doesn’t include the everyday commute between your home and permanent workplace.)

    If you use your personal car or van to travel to a temporary place of work and you’ve paid for the fuel out of your own pocket, you can claim the following rates as limited company expenses:

    • Car and vans – 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles and then 25p for every mile thereafter.
    • Motorcyclists – 24p per mile
    • Bicycle – 20p per mile

    Claiming the above rates doesn’t just lower your total Corporation Tax bill, it also means you can reimburse yourself for the amount claim.

    As well as the mileage rates listed above you can also claim the following as business expenses:

    • Parking costs
    • Road toll fees
    • Congestion charges
    • Hotel rooms (within reason)
    • Food and drink on overnight trips
    • Public transport, including train, bus, air and taxi fares
    • Vehicle Insurance
    • Vehicle repairs and servicing

  • 15

    Startup costs

    Startup costs can be claimed as limited company expenses for up to seven years before a company starts trading. Common pre-formation business expenses include laptops and computers software, internet and domain name fees, travel costs, as well as professional services such as accounting and legal help.

  • 16


    As a director of a limited company, if you choose to pay yourself a salary as an employee of your business, this, and the corresponding National Insurance Contributions (NIC), can be claimed as allowable expenses. Bear in mind that once you reach the National Insurance threshold, you’ll have to start pay NICs.

    Taking money out of your Limited Company

    Pexels michael burrows 7147487
    Business Advisory
  • 17


    Once you’ve established an agreement with a pension provider, you can pay into your pension pot and get 100% tax relief as a limited company expense. Be aware that there’s a £40,000 limit (increasing to £60,000) on how much money you can add in tax-free to a pension scheme via your business or personally.

  • 18

    Entertainment expenses

    Generally speaking, spending money on business entertainment isn’t an allowable expense against profits. However, if you have to spend your own money on business entertainment as part of your duties as a limited company director, you may be able to claim it as a business expense. However, these business entertainment costs would be disallowed in the company profits, so will not reduce your corporation tax.

Making sure you are claiming for all your business expenses is a really important way top ensure you don't pay more tax than you need to. Remember, the golden rule when it comes to working out what allowable expenses you can claim for your limited company: they must be incurred wholly, exclusively and be necessary for the running of your business.

At Bright Beany we pride ourselves on supporting small businesses and startups make the best decisions for their business, and we are here to support you every step of the way!

If you would like assistance in setting up a limited company, get in touch with us today.

Business advisory

Business Advisory

Every business is unique, and no one-size-fits-all. From finance transformation to outsource Finance Director support, we care about helping businesses achieve their definition of success.

Find out more
Business advisory image