Several professional bodies have requested clarification from HMRC concerning their interpretation of the “temporary workplace” rules where employees have had their posting extended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
HMRC has confirmed that its approach remains unchanged. Under the 24-month rule employees who are seconded to a temporary workplace for no more than 24 months of “continuous work” are entitled to tax relief on their travel expenses. However, if it becomes apparent that the placement at the temporary workplace will go on for longer than 24 months then the travel (and subsistence) to that workplace will not qualify for relief.
This means that employees working at a temporary workplace and then furloughed will no longer be entitled to claim tax relief on their remaining time at the temporary workplace if the furloughed time takes them over 24 months of “continuous work”.
An employee was due to work at a temporary workplace for 21 months but say three months after the secondment started they were placed on furlough for five months.
When they return to the temporary workplace for 18 months to complete the 21 months of work, they are no longer entitled to claim relief for business travel and, where reimbursed by the employer, the amounts would be taxable emoluments. This is because it was known that the initial three months of work, the five months of furlough and the 19 months of work would together be greater than 24 months.
HMRC have confirmed that: “The government’s position remains that any period of furlough or working from home, whilst attending a temporary workplace, will be considered a period of continuous work.”
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