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I already understand the nature of the 24 month rule in regards to a single contract that lasts for more than 2 years. To recap:

  • From the point at which you know that your contract will be longer than 2 years you cannot claim travel expenses.
  • If your contract is longer than 2 years from the outset you cannot claim travel expenses at all
  • It's fine to claim them up until the point that you know you'll be over the 2 years

What I'm unsure about and have had conflicting stories about, is in cases when you have many contracts during a 2 year period, with different clients, but in a similar geographical area. The majority of my contracts are in London but I don't know how far apart they would need to be to not fall foul of the rule.

If there is no significant change in duration or cost, HMRC considers the workplace to be the same for the purposes of travel expenses. If that's the case, that would cover most locations in Central London, which can't be right. Can it?

4

HMRC consider the City to be a single location. In fact, the rule is considered to apply where the journey to work is broadly the same.

This rule is modified where the employee works at a succession of workplaces but the change of workplace has no substantial effect on the employee's journey to work. All such workplaces are treated as the same workplace for the purpose of the legislation

See HMRC's Status Manual for more info

In your case, assuming your journey is via rail then underground into zone 1, then the existing interpretation suggests a single continuing period, irrespective as to your exact destination.

Of course, the 24 month rule only applies if you spend more than 40% of your working time on that site (or collection of neighbouring sites).

  • So it seems then that having one contract a short walk from the mainline rail station and another some time after (but within the 2 year period) that was a tube ride away would differentiate them enough to break that continuous period. – levelnis May 22 '13 at 8:06
  • To be honest, it is impossible to know how far apart is far enough - one stop, two stops. And two different inspectors may have different opinions. – Andrew May 22 '13 at 8:16
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    I suppose it's part of the overall approach you take to your self-employed, in-business-of-your-own-account status: consider the issue from the perspective of being self-employed and don't simply ignore it in the hope you won't get investigated. – levelnis May 22 '13 at 8:31
  • @levelnis, I think you are OK if the middle contract is for a reasonable length of time and you don’t make a habit of working within the some area. – Ian Ringrose Apr 2 '14 at 11:31
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    I went to a networking event hosted by Crunch Accounting last week and this issue was discussed at length. According to Crunch, HMRC themselves do not understand this legislation and the info on their own website is incorrect. It seems as though you can move from client to client within the same location without falling foul of this rule. – levelnis Apr 2 '14 at 14:29

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