Many people assume it’s not worth the hassle of keeping records of what you spend on meals because the refund you get back won’t be worth it.
Shockingly it turns out that you're probably looking at about a staggering £90,000 spent on food over your working life – that’s enough to pay off an average mortgage 6 years early!
The cost of food varies a lot up and down the country, and depends on things like whether you have a subsidised canteen at work. Still, the average daily spend of a person at work is £5 - £10. This means you should be getting £250 - £480 more back from HMRC in your refund every year.
If you don’t claim you’re missing out, on average, around £12-25k over the course of your working life – and that’s a considerable amount of money for taking a few photos of what you had for lunch.
Let's have a look at some examples:
Bill, is a builder working on a construction site in London.
- He arrives in the chilly early hours and grabs a quick cuppa to warm up before work on his way in (£1.20).
- After a few hard hours, he gets a tea break at 10am. He only had a light breakfast, so he buys a bacon roll from the local shop to keep him going until lunch (£2.49).
- Lunch today turns out for be a burger with chips and a soft drink from the on-site canteen (£4.50).
- In the mid-afternoon, he gets another break. There's a food van handy, so he buys himself a quick snack and a drink there (£1.75) before finishing up his day's work.
Were you keeping track? Bill’s spent £9.94 already – and he’s probably a bit dehydrated at that!
All pretty simple so far, right? Only, Bill had to trek down from his home in Scotland for this job and travel home at weekends. He claims his tax refunds for the food he buys during his work day, but he's still missing out badly.
- He grabs a sandwich and a beer (£8.80 – and that’s if he has just one drink) on the train for his dinner on the way south which he should be claiming for.
- When he arrives he has to stay overnight, which means bills for his evening meals (£7.50 in a local pub), because he doesn’t get a subsistence allowance from his employer
- Then he has to fork over the price of next morning's breakfast (£5.95)
This means he spends £22.25 on food during his travels to work.
We can make a refund claim for your food related expenses as part of your travel tax refund, but not as a stand alone expenses claim.
Use our Tax Refund Calculator to find out what you could claim.