What expenses can I claim for tax purposes?

An expense or part of an expense (when you can identify a suitable proportion) can be claimed as a deduction from taxable income for tax when it is incurred for the purposes of your business. 

Specific rules in statute and almost 100 years of tax case law have made this topic complicated.

In this section we cover what you can claim for tax and we provides worked examples, FAQs, planning points and tips.

These guides are for sole traders and partners. Click here for guides for Employers/employees.


A quick run through the accounts for tax? Try our Accounts: tax health check (self-employed)

More checklists under Self-employed > Tax planning & compliance.

What expenses can you claim if you work in a certain type of business?

This new section contains Subscriber guides that build up to summarise the key tax treatments for different types of sole trader, or partnership.

Step 1

Work out if there are any special rules for your particualr trade, profession, vocation. 

This section is building up week by week so watch this space.

Trade, profession or vocation  
Accountants & tax advisers  

Antiques dealers

Dancers & Physical Performers  
Doctors & Dentists  


Market Traders  
Pop-up bars and cafes  


Step 2

Having worked out what you can claim, relative to your trade, profession, vocation the next step is to chose the way to keep your records and report your business.

There are two different ways to prepare a set of accounts in order to arrive at your taxable profits for tax purposes:

  1. "Simpler accounting": or cash accounting.
  2. Accruals basis accounting: this is accounting following Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

Which system for me? See Cash or accruals accounting toolkit

Step 3

There are three different methods of claiming tax relief for deductions for expenses

Some of these rules become mandatory if you are adopting the cash basis.

Some may be adopted voluntarily so you can in certain circumstances be free to "mix and match".

Each business is different and so the right combination of claims and reliefs depends on you.

Top tips:

Which expenses for me? See Flat rate expenses or actual cost toolkit