Which expenses you can (and cannot) claim on your Tax Return

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It is that dreaded time of year again for the Self Employed.  If you are self-employed in Ireland, you pay tax on the profits you make from your business and on any other income that you have. Each year, you must file a self-employed tax return, which must be done by 31st October each year or if you do it online via the Revenue’s ROS system, this date is usually extended until mid-November.

Self Employed people make up 17% of Ireland’s workforce, so annual tax returns are a big deal for a lot of business people and households.

As a self-employed person, you pay income tax under the self-assessment system, once a year. Self-assessment means that you are responsible for making your own assessment of tax that is due.

You must ensure to keep proper records of your business:

  • All purchases and sales of goods and services.
  • Monies received and paid out.
  • You must keep supporting records i.e. invoices, receipts, bank statements etc.

You can do your self-assessment  online with the Revenue at ROS.ie and if you are not registered you can register for ROS here

It is a well laid out platform where you can enter your figures and the tax you have to pay will be calculated immediately.

The expenses that you can claim for are those that are directly related to the running of your business such as:

  • the purchase of goods for resale
  • employees’ pay
  • rent and bills for your business premises
  • running costs for vehicles or machines that you use in your business
  • lease payments for vehicles or machines that you use in your business
  • accountancy fees
  • interest payments for money you borrowed to finance your business.


Can I Claim Home Office Expenses?

If Joe is sitting at his kitchen table on the laptop having a coffee the answer is No, however if Joe has a room set up in his dwelling wholly and exclusively for the running of his business, then he can claim for a portion of the running costs of the home can be made.

What Motor Expenses can I Claim?

You are not allowed to claim expenses for travel between your home and work. However, motor expenses after reaching your workplace is allowed once the trips are for the purpose of business.  To be honest a sole trader should keep note of the percentage of their annual mileage that related to business.  So, for example if 40% of your mileage is for business purposes then 40% of the running costs of the car are allowable i.e. fuel, motor tax, repairs etc.

Can I claim for business meeting lunch’s?

A lot of people think the self employed can claim for the costs of entertaining clients.  This is actually not allowed for tax purposes and includes meals, drinks, customer gifts and other forms of entertainment.

However, in the case of an employee on a business trip whereby they are forced to eat out or incur food costs that would not be normal, an allowance may be given to cover these costs

Staff entertainment expenses are deductible as long as they are reasonable.  Nothing like EJ Entertainment as mentioned on the movie ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’.

For further information regarding self-assessment please visit the Revenues website