Developers – what expenses can I claim?
What income should I track?
As a developer, you might work as a freelancer (so self-employed), for a company (getting paid through PAYE), or a mixture of the two. This will determine how you track your income, or if you need to at all:
I get paid via a payslip (PAYE)
When you’re paid solely through PAYE and make no extra money via self-employment, you (probably) don’t have to file a Self Assessment (otherwise known as a tax return). Check out more rules here.
I get paid as a sole-trader
If you work solely as a freelancer, and don’t earn any money via a PAYE job, you’ll definitely need to report your income to HMRC and do a Self Assessment (unless it’s £1000 a year).
I’m a freelance developer and employed by a company
If you have both PAYE income as well as self-employed income, you’ll need to tell HMRC about both. Your tax rate is determined by your total income during the tax year. We know that working out tax when you have multiple sources of income can be confusing – but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this helpful guide.
What expenses are business expenses?
As a self-employed developer, you will have expenses. These can range from the equipment you use, to website costs and insurance. They’ll also include the costs associated with running a home office, or renting a workspace.
To get you started, Finmo has compiled a list of common and eligible business expenses for freelance developers to claim when completing their Self Assessment.
As a freelance developer, you’ll use a range of equipment for your job. The below isn’t an exhaustive list, but when buying this equipment wholly and exclusively for work (so not for personal use), you can claim it as a business expense:
Computer equipment – laptop, mouse, keyboard, etc.
Software – e.g. Github, CodePen, Skype, etc.
Costs associated with building or running your website – e.g. domains./hosting
Studio rent / co-working space
Home office furniture – desk, chair, etc.
Books, magazines, reference materials
Office & Property
Almost all self-employed people work from home in some capacity. As a freelance developer, you probably do more than most. It’s likely that you carry out a lot of your work from a home office, but even if you don’t, doing things like your Self Assessment from home still means you ‘work from home’ in some capacity.
Whether you do a lot or a little work in your own house, there’ll be expenses you can claim associated with this, like a proportion of your utility bills.
Head to our article to find out more about what expenses you can claim from home.
Travel, Subsistence & Entertaining
Working as a freelance developer potentially involves less travel than other jobs – but if you do ever find yourself travelling away from your usual place of work to meet a client, there are expenses you can claim.
First off, if you drive a car for work purposes, you can claim mileage to write the cost of this off your tax bill.
Head to our article, ‘What mileage can I claim for work?’, to find out more.
Next, there may be expenses you can claim related to ‘subsistence’ – aka the stuff you buy while traveling for work. This includes things like food, travel costs (trains / planes / taxis, etc.), hotels, and other ad hoc expenditures are considered subsistence.
When it comes to entertaining, the news is not so great. HMRC has cut down significantly on entertainment expenses, putting almost a complete stop to expensing these – even when that entertainment might mean winning a new contract, for example. When you take clients out to lunch and pick up the bill, the portion of the lunch attributed to you is considered subsistence, but the portion for them is entertainment and so not a valid business expense for tax purposes.
Head to our article on what food and drinks expenses you can claim to find out more.
Marketing, Subscriptions & Training
The good news is that you can write off all training and development costs associated with honing your skill-set as business expenses.
Legal & Financial
Any financial or legal costs associated with your business are considered a business expense. This can include things like interest paid on a loan taken out solely for the purpose of your business or bank charges related to your work. You might also need to hire an accountant or to purchase business software to help you sort your income and expenses and handle your taxes (we can help with that).
Finally, it may be the case that some of your clients require you to take our certain types of insurance cover before they’ll agree to work with you, which again, you can write off as a business expense.
Head to our article on what insurance freelancers might need to find out more.
The smart way to handle sole trader tax.
Tax stuff can be hard to get your head around, especially when you’ve got multiple sources of income. Our tax experts are here to help – with one of our plans you can pick the brains of our accredited accountants and have your Self Assessment fully reviewed too.
Sign up here.