Can I claim an expense if I don’t have the receipt?

Can I claim an expense if I don’t have the receipt?

What happens when you can’t find a receipt for a business expense? Don’t panic, you may still be able to claim for some expenses without a receipt.

You never received a receipt

Sometimes you don’t receive a receipt, for example, if you purchase an item through Gumtree or Facebook. To claim for this purchase as a business expense keep a thorough record including information about the item, who you bought it from and how much it cost.

VAT claimed on items under £25

In most cases in order to claim the VAT from a purchase, you need a VAT specific invoice or receipt. However, if the item is under £25 you can often claim back the VAT without any need for the receipt. An example of this would be car parking (except street parking which is outside of the scope of VAT) and road tolls.

Bank statements instead of receipts

If you are not claiming back VAT your bank statement can serve as proof of purchase as long as you paid using your business card. Note, you cannot use this method to claim back VAT if the purchase was over £25.

Mileage based on a flat rate rather than actual costs

If you are a sole trader or partnership you can calculate motor expenses based on a flat rate scheme rather than actual costs. For cars and vans, you can claim 45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles and then 25p a mile thereafter. Motorcyclists can claim 24p per mile regardless of distance.

Home office expenses

If you are self-employed and work from home for more than 25 hours per week you can claim the following flat rate allowance.

  • 25 – 50 hours per month = £10 per month
  • 51 – 100 hours per month = £18 per month
  • More than 101 hours per month = £26 per month

Note the flat rate doesn’t include telephone and internet.

If you live at your business premises

If you live on your business premises, for example, if you run a bed and breakfast or home-based childcare you can use a simplified flat rate cost. The amount will vary depending on the number of people living on the premises and is deducted from the expense.

  • 1 person = £350 a month from the total expenses
  • 2 people = £500 a month from the total expenses
  • 3 or more people = £600 a month from the total expenses

For example; you run a bed and breakfast, there are two of you living on the premises and it costs £20,000 a year to run the business. You would need to deduct 12 x £500 = £6000 from the running costs of the B&B leaving you £14,000 allowable expense.

If someone lives at your property for part of the year you only deduct the relevant flat rate for the months they live there.

Self-employed people must keep records of their receipts (either paper or digital) for five years after then 31 January submission deadline. For limited companies, the requirement is to keep the records for six years from the end of the companies financial year.