In David Jones V HMRC [2015] TC04643 a self employed consultant anaesthetist with an established private practice at his home was denied tax relief for travel to two of the hospitals at which he visited for work: the number of his visits made his attendance "regular and predictable". Travel to and from home to other hospitals was allowed.

  • The anaesthetist worked as a self employed subcontractor for a number of surgeons, and was engaged to attend patients at different hospitals in North Wales as and when required by the surgeons.
  • There was no set pattern to his engagements: his work depended on the surgeon who engaged him.
  • He maintained his office at home and had no regular clinics in any hospital.
  • He made over 800 journeys to and between hospitals over the course of a year.
  • HMRC also allowed his travel between hospitals.

The appeal concerned a total of 152 journeys between two hospitals, St Josephs and Royal Gwent and his home.

The FTT after considering the Upper Tribunal's decision in Dr Samadian, found that although his attendance at these two hospitals was not made on any set basis, the fact that there were only four private hospitals in his area meant that his attendance at a hospital was predictable and his visits to the two in question were frequent enough to be “regular". It found that each hospital was a workplace for the taxpayer. As such his travel costs incurred in going to and from the workplace and home was commuting and should be disallowed.

This case is an interesting extension on the Dr Samadian theme: where a medic's main place of business is at home and he has other regular and predictable places of business, e.g. clinics at hospitals. Home to work travel to those other work places will not be allowed. This is understandable because the position is similar to say, a dentist with a dental surgery in town, he would not expect relief for home to work travel, even if home was his office address. In this case we have some serious difficulties in understanding quite how the FTT found that the visits to the two hospitals were in any way "regular or predictable” when attendance at any hospital really depended on the surgeon who happened to engage the taxpayer that day and to cap it all, HMRC had already allowed travel from home to other hospitals. What on earth will happen if the taxpayer makes substantially less visits to one of the hospitals next year, will that become allowanble? Self assessment of travel expenses for some members of the medical profession appears to have evolved into something of a dark art.

Links: David Jones V HMRC [2015] TC04643