In Hamish Taylor v HMRC [2020] TC07893, a claim for travel and subsistence by a sub-contractor failed on the basis that his home was not his base of operation.

  • Mr Taylor was a sub-contractor who lived in Scotland and chose to work in Swindon.
  • He had contracts across multiple sites in the area.
  • He claimed deductions for his Travel expenses from Scotland and his Swindon Accommodation expenses.

HMRC raised an assessment and a penalty notice on the basis that:

HMRC conceded that had Mr Taylor's base of operations been his home in Scotland, travel to one-off contracts in Swindon would have been treated as allowable.

The FTT found that:

  • Whilst an expense may be necessary for an individual to undertake their trade in the circumstances, that does not mean that it meets the criteria for 'wholly and exclusively'.
  • Mr Taylor could have chosen to work nearer to home. He had chosen Swindon out of convenience, not necessity. 
  • His base of operation was Swindon and not his home in Scotland.
  • Due to Mr Taylor seeking professional advice and co-operating with the HMRC enquiry, the correct penalty rate was 0%.


This is a difficult area of legislation to apply and can be subjective. Each set of facts have to be judged on individual merits. This particular case turned on the definition of 'base', which is not always home in the absence of a traditional office.


Wholly & Exclusively
Overview of the rules on what trading expenses are tax-deductible.

Self-Employed Travel Expenses
Guidance on when travel expenditure is deductible.

Self-Employed Subsistence Expenses
Guidance on when subsistence expenditure (food/drink/overnight expenses) is deductible. 

Adviser's Tax Penalty Planner
An essential overview of penalties across the different tax regimes.

Penalties: Errors in Returns & Documents
An in-depth review of the tax-geared penalty system based on disclosure and culpability.

External link

Hamish Taylor v HMRC [2020] TC07893