Travel costs are the costs that are incurred when MPs’ Staff are undertaking a business journey. These can include plane or rail tickets, bus fares, mileage, tolls, congestion charges and parking, and related costs such as accommodation, subsistence, and incidental expenses.
Details of travel costs that MPs’ Staff can claim are set out in the Scheme. All claims must have a parliamentary purpose.
MPs’ Staff must assess claims against HMRC criteria and determine if it is “taxable” or “non-taxable”. That is, reimbursed with or without personal financial liability to tax and National Insurance.
Non-taxable travel costs
MPs’ Staff can usually claim the reimbursement of travel costs without any personal liability to either tax or National Insurance if the following apply:
it is part of the contracted job role
the travel is usually ad hoc or irregular, and
the travel is for a specific purpose which meets the HMRC criteria
Regular travel may be claimable but only where there is a purpose that meets the HMRC criteria for each and every occasion that travel costs are incurred.
Some examples of a specific purpose include planned meetings (likely to have agendas and minutes), surgeries where a schedule is provided or training events.
Working in another location by choice, or networking or meeting colleagues are not considered to have a specific purpose.
The HMRC guidance should be reviewed, and advice obtained if required.
Taxable travel costs
If the travel does not meet the criteria, for example, the travel is regular or does not have a specific purpose, these may still be claimable but will be subject to tax and National Insurance when they are reimbursed.
This is because reimbursement of those costs is considered of additional benefit and will form part of the individual’s taxable income. MPs’ Staff should be aware of how reimbursements of taxable travel costs may impact them if they are in receipt of any income-related benefits.
HMRC should be contacted directly for any individual tax questions that relate to personal circumstances. IPSA cannot provide tax advice.
There are many HMRC definitions of when costs are taxable or non-taxable (this is also known as “not eligible for tax relief” or “eligible for tax relief”). This guidance is not a substitute for HMRC guidance.
It is important that all staff are aware of HMRC guidance, as there is a personal responsibility to submit accurate claims.
For more information visit HMRC's guidance on ordinary commuting and private travel.
HMRC has also provided definitions of travel, including examples.
IPSA will keep records of the travel and travel costs that are reimbursed. Individual staff should also keep their own records to demonstrate the purpose of the travel as they may be asked to produce this information in future.
Before making a claim for reimbursement, MPs’ Staff must be satisfied that the purpose for travel is allowable under the Scheme, and if this is taxable or non-taxable according to HMRC guidance.
Understanding the business journey
To understand whether the journey meets both the Scheme and HMRC criteria, MPs’ Staff must consider:
Is the “place of work” correct on the staff member’s contract of employment?
Is the journey a commute?
Are the travel costs necessary as part of the duties of employment?
If there is a specific purpose for the travel?
Is the purpose of the journey parliamentary in nature?
It is important that the contract is correct and reflects the permanent place of work. This will affect what travel costs are claimable and whether any reimbursements made have a personal financial liability to tax and National Insurance.
The available contracts are office, hybrid and home and can be found in our Staff contract generator.
An office-based contract is defined as:
“You are contracted to work in an office which is your permanent place of work. This is where you are expected to do most, or all, of your work.”
A hybrid contract is defined as:
“You are contracted to work in an office, but you can choose to work from home some or all of the time with your employer’s agreement. Your permanent place of work is considered to be the office as your employer provides appropriate facilities in another location that could be practically used by you.”
A home-based worker is defined as:
“You are based at home, and this is your permanent place of work. You are contracted to work at home because it is an objective requirement of the job. Your home is where you do most of your work as your employer does not provide appropriate facilities in another location that could be practically used by you.”
This is the regular journey to and from the permanent place of work.
For MPs’ Staff on office-based and hybrid contracts, this means that the commute is between the home (or other location) and the office stated in the contract.
Commutes and associated commuting costs are not claimable under the Scheme.
For more information, visit Commuting costs.
Duties of the employment
Claims for travel costs should only be made when these directly relate to the role that the staff member is employed to do.
HMRC guidance states that these are determined by looking at the duties of the employment, and not by looking at the requirement of the employer.
Specific reasons for travel
HMRC has provided definitions of travel, including examples.
Travel costs that are not related to a parliamentary purpose are not claimable under the Scheme.
Making IPSA Online claims
All travel cost options on IPSA Online have been amended.
When making a claim the travel costs should be selected as “taxable” or “non-taxable”.
Where a claim is made as “non-taxable” this is confirmation that the selection complies with the HMRC guidance.
If the “taxable” option is selected IPSA will ensure the relevant tax and National Insurance is deducted from the salary and paid to HMRC.