Okay, here’s where the rubber hits the road. The amount of tax you can claim back for your work travel depends on the rates and thresholds set out in the HMRC rulebook. They’re called Approved Mileage Allowance Payments (AMAP) and as of the 2019/20 tax year they look like this:
- 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles you travel by car or van, then 25p per mile after that.
- 24p per mile travelled on a motorcycle.
- 20p per mile for travel by bicycle.
You won’t get taxed on your AMAP payments, so travelling 15,000 miles for work in a single tax year nets you a tax-free payment of up to £5,750. That breaks down as £4,500 for the first 10,000 miles you travelled (10,000 miles x 45p), plus £1,250 for the rest (5,000 miles x 25p). Obviously, this assumes you travelled in your own car or van. The AMAP rates for motorbikes and bicycles are lower, but they're still worth claiming.
Another point to keep in mind is that you have to be footing the bills yourself to claim - or part of them, at least. If you’re already getting at least as much as the AMAP rates say you should from your employer, you can’t claim tax back. However, if you’re getting less than that you can claim back the difference from HMRC. Also, if your employer's paying you a higher rate, then it'll be considered a "benefit". That means you'll owe some tax on the extra. It doesn’t matter how many vehicles you’re using for work. The AMAP rates don't exclusively apply to any one vehicle. The distance you travel in each of your vehicles is simply lumped in together to work out your payments.
On the other hand, if you're on the road for more than one job, then each is usually considered separately. That means you can claim the full AMAP rates for each. The jobs really do have to be separate, though. Working for associated companies or employers probably won't count, and you’ll get heat from the taxman if you try to bend the rules even slightly – so don’t do it!
If you’re taking other passengers to work with you in your car or van, you can claim an extra 5p a mile per passenger. The travel’s obviously got to be work-related for them as well, though, so don’t just load up the kids and family dog and expect a pay-out from the taxman.