Miscellaneous Expenses

All expenses must be in accordance with the four mandatory Principles.

 

Expenses Principles Logo
  1. Value for money is achieved.

  2. Expenses should only be used when it is not possible and/or practical for the University to pay for the good or service directly.

  3. Costs incurred are for business purposes only, and the individual does not receive a personal benefit.

  4. Only actual and evidenced costs are reclaimed.

 

The University will only reimburse costs relevant to the undertaking of University business. There are a number of other common expenses incurred by University personnel and it is important to speak to the departmental finance team for further advice before undertaking any spend.

All expense claims should be properly recorded and evidenced with supporting receipts or proof of purchase AND properly recorded on the expense claim, including a reason for the claim.

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Training courses and conferences should only be arranged for professional development purposes or University benefit. Wherever possible costs should be paid for in advance by the University but if this is not possible, they may be claimed though the expenses process with departmental discretion.

Training and conferences should be relevant to and support the claimant’s role in the University, and may include course and examination fees, and books etc, either in full or in part.

Examples of what training expenses can and should not be claimed:

 

þ Communications administrator undertaking Chartered Institute of Marketing qualifications for personal development. Under Principle 1, this is value for money. The course adds value to the marketing role and therefore cost-effective.
þ Team leader undertaking non-accredited management training to perform personnel leadership and management activities more effectively. Under Principle 1, this is value for money. Training adds value to the department and is for business purposes only.
ý Should not be claimed. Finance Officer undertaking Italian language course for personal interest. Under Principle 3, this is not for business purposes. Language is not required for University role.

Wherever possible, memberships and subscriptions to professional bodies/societies, and publications should be made in the name of the University under a specific job title or department rather than an individual’s name, and paid for directly by the University. Where this is not possible, at departmental discretion, an individual may subscribe and reclaim these costs via expenses.

The University has an exemption from HMRC to allow for individual membership fees or annual subscriptions to qualifying professional bodies and learned societies to be paid without any tax implications.

Individual membership fees or subscriptions to HMRC’s approved list may be claimed through the expenses process and reimbursed by the University. To qualify for reimbursement, all the following conditions need to be met:

  1. membership is necessary in order to fulfil the duties of the role, or is required by contract of employment; and
  2. the professional body appears on HMRC’s approved list; and
  3. the department or research funder concerned allows these payments to be made.

Payments for individual membership fees to organisations that are not covered by this dispensation are treated by HMRC as a taxable benefit. If memberships or subscriptions are considered essential for operational reasons, the department should first try to arrange a corporate/institutional membership. If this is not possible, the department may agree to cover theses costs for an individual through the expenses process, but tax and National Insurance costs will apply.

Note: the University is unable to make any requests for additions to HMRC’s approved list.

Where it is necessary for an individual to pay a membership fee in order to attend a conference, the payment should be carefully considered under the value for money principle. If the cost of the membership brings significant value to the department, through publications and free attendance at other conferences and events throughout the year etc, the department may accept this and pay the additional tax and National Insurance costs it will incur through the University's payroll. If the membership cost adds no additional value to the department, then they should not be reimbursed.

Departments may subscribe to publications that are considered necessary. Subscriptions should be in the name of the University, department or a post (e.g. ‘The Administrator’), paid for directly by the University, and delivered to a University address. Where it is necessary to provide a named individual then this is acceptable as long as the other conditions are met.

Subscriptions to clubs are regarded as taxable benefits by HMRC if the cost is paid by the University. Where there is an overarching operational need for club membership, with departmental approval, membership fees may be claimed through the expenses process. However, the following rules apply and tax and National Insurance must be paid by the individual.

  1. The department must approve the payment in principle for operational purposes; and
  2. the individual must pay the subscription fee themselves then claim reimbursement on an expenses Claim Form, supported by a valid receipt; and
  3. the reimbursement will be made as a payroll payment – not an expenses payment – with associated tax and National Insurance deducted from the payment made.

 

þ Case Study Example - Multiple subscriptions of publication for department

Fatima has found that Economist magazine is a very useful publication for her department to keep up to date with international news events across all sectors. She has decided to subscribe with 10 copies of the publication on an annual basis for the benefit of her department.

Under Principle 1 – Value for money is achieved. The subscription cost is reasonable, the publication is useful and will be read by the entire department. The subscription must be made in the department's name.

ý Case Study Example - Individual subscription for publication subscription

Pablo has discovered a new publication that is very pertinent to his area of research with useful, interesting content. He has decided to subscribe to the publication and registers the subscription under the University of Oxford. However, as the content is only of interest to himself, he has decided to use his home address where he can read it in his own time.

Under Principle 3 – A personal benefit is received. Pablo will have to pay tax and National Insurance on this subscription. Pablo should have sought departmental approval and used the department mailing address.

Examples of what can and should not be claimed as membership fees or subscriptions:

 

þ Individual membership fee to an HMRC approved professional organisation as necessary to fulfil duties of role. Under Principle 1, this is value for money. Membership is necessary for the individual’s role.
ý Should not be claimed. Individual membership fee to an HMRC approved professional organisation not related to the role. Under Principle 3, a personal benefit is received. Should not be claimed unless written departmental approval with justification of cost is provided.
þ Organisation/department membership for organisation not on HMRC list. Under Principle 1, this is value for money. Membership must be in support of the department’s work. Any memberships approved by the department MUST be registered in the Department or University’s name or cannot be claimed.
þ Magazine/journal/paper subscription for department use. Under Principle 1, this is value for money. Must be in support of the department’s work and registered under the department or University’s name. All publications must be sent to a University address.
ý Should not be claimed. Magazine subscription for individual within a department, sent to home address. Under Principle 3, a personal benefit is received. Should not be claimed unless department approval is given as an essential requirement for operational purposes and all further criteria (above) are met.
ý Should not be claimed.Club membership costs (other than the University Club). Under Principle 3, a personal benefit is received.

All communication and IT equipment charges required for University purposes should be purchased directly through the University: this includes, hardware, software, line rental, and connection charges. In exceptional circumstances, they may be purchased and reimbursed through the expenses process.

This should be discussed and agreed with the department in advance.
 

Departmental Note

Departments that use computer equipment for research projects that are at zero rated tax MUST use the P2P system to gain a zero rated certificate. This certificate cannot be obtained retrospectively and without it, all equipment costs will be 20% higher due to VAT being applied.

 

All hardware equipment and software provided or paid for (directly or indirectly) by the University remains the property of the University at all times. Each department is responsible for maintaining their own, up to date inventory of equipment.

All software licences must be registered to the University at a University address.

 

þ  Case Study Example - Antarctic laptop requirement

Channan is travelling to the Antarctic for 3 months for an environmental research project. Her computer requirements are significant as the equipment must be able to withstand very low temperatures and extreme weather conditions. The specification required is not available through the University P2P system and therefore she has to purchase her equipment while overseas from a specific supply ship that specialises in this type of kit.

Under Principle 2 – University cannot pay directly. As the required equipment is not available from any other supplier, Channan may purchase this equipment and claim it back through the expenses process.  However, the equipment remains the property of the University and any licences must be registered to the University.

þ  Case Study Example - Specific technical equipment not available through P2P

Mi Ling is working on a particular computer research project that requires the highest spec equipment available to test coding and algorithm models etc. The latest version of equipment has been released which is pertinent to her work but she has been advised that it will not be available on the P2P system for at least 3 months. By waiting, Mi Ling’s research will be behind schedule so, with department approval, she purchases the equipment and claims the cost back through the expenses system.

Under Principle 2 – University cannot pay directly. The computer equipment is needed for research purposes and Mi Ling first checked to see if it was available through the P2P process. Mi Ling must support her claim with a receipt of purchase and the equipment will be the property of the University.

Examples of what IT and computer equipment can and should not be claimed for:

 

þ Computer equipment and operating systems etc that are not available via the P2P system. Under Principle 2 it is not practical for the University to pay directly. This cost is necessary for an individual to undertake University work. Payment should be made with the departmental credit card in the first instance but may be claimed through expenses if this is not possible.
þ Low value IT accessories such as charging cables etc required for University work when travelling. Under Principle 2, it is not practical for the University to pay directly. This cost is necessary for an individual to undertake University work while away from home. When in Oxford, the P2P system should be used.
ý

Should not be claimed through expenses. Laptops and computer equipment. Under the first Principle, this is not value for money and under Principle 2, the University should pay directly. All new laptops and computer equipment should be purchased through the P2P system wherever possible to ensure value for money, or the corporate credit card if not available through P2P.

ý Should not be claimed through expenses. Computer operating systems and software programmes, such as Windows, Microsoft Office, Photoshop or Microsoft Project etc. Under Principle 1, this is not value for money and under Principle 2, the University should pay directly. All computer software should be purchased through the P2P system to ensure value for money and the licenced owner must be the University. The corporate credit card should be used if not available through P2P.

Examples of what telephone equipment can and should not be claimed for:

 

þ University business phone call costs from personally owned mobile or fixed line phones. Under Principle 2, it is not practical for the university to pay directly. All expense claims MUST be supported by a fully itemised bill showing actual cost of calls incurred.
þ Broadband and internet costs incurred while travelling on University business. Under Principle 2, it is not practical for the university to pay directly. All expenses claimed must be supported by a receipt.
ý Should not be claimed through expenses. Mobile and fixed line phones, tablets and iPads etc, and associated network charges. Under Principle 1, this is not value for money. All mobile devices and network charges should be purchased through the P2P system with licenced owner as the University. However, in exceptional circumstances, while travelling overseas, some equipment may be purchased and claimed for with departmental approval if allowable within funding T&Cs.
ý Should not be claimed. Mobile phone top-up packages (pay as you go etc). Under Principle 3, a personal benefit is received.

Due to the strict GDPR regulations on data privacy and the University’s security policy, all file and data storage facilities should be purchased directly through the University through a preferred supplier that meets the University’s requirements.

If the department requires these applications for University use, they should be purchased via P2P or the University credit card and MUST be registered in the University’s name. If this is not possible, purchases can only be made if they are in the name of the University and supported by a University address.

The University will NOT reimburse any costs incurred for the purchase of data storage or mobile applications in the name of an individual including:

  • cloud based storage, and shared storage applications including:
    • Dropbox;
    • iCloud;
    • Amazon cloud;
    • Google Drive; and
  • smartphone/tablet apps held on a personally owned device

University personnel that use Display Screen Equipment (DSE), are eligible for support with eyesight testing but only through the University’s preferred opticians, and it is the department’s responsibility to ensure that individuals are aware of this requirement.

The list of University preferred opticians can be found here. If employees wish to seek re-imbursement from the University for the eye test and any corrective lenses recommended, they must choose an optician from this list. If there is any doubt as to whether eye care costs should be covered, then the department should consult the University Safety Office.

Where an optician recommends an employee be provided with eyesight correction specifically for their work with DSE, the University will reimburse reasonable costs for glasses up to £75, met from departmental funds. If the individual chooses glasses above this cost, they must pay the difference.

There is no requirement on the University to contribute where ‘normal’ glasses, provided for reading, watching TV or driving, are adequate for DSE use.

For more DSE safety information and why we have to use University nominated opticians, visit the Display Screen Equipment information pages.

Examples of what can and should not be claimed for eyesight costs:

 

þ Eye test costs for University personnel using computer screen equipment for work purposes through preferred optician. Under Principle 1, this is value for money. The University will reimburse eye test costs and a receipt is required to support the claim.
ý Cannot be claimed. Eye test costs through ‘other’ non-University preferred opticians. Under Principle 1, this is not value for money. A non-preferred optician will not have been quality checked by the University so value for money cannot be guaranteed. The claimant should have used a preferred optician.
þ Costs for prescription glasses required for specific DSE activity. Under Principle 1, this is value for money. As the individual needs glasses to perform their work, the University will reimburse this cost up to a value of £75. However, the individual MUST have used a University preferred optician.
ý Cannot be claimed.Costs of glasses needed for change in prescription lenses for general use including use with DSE. Under Principle 3, a personal benefit is received. These glasses are required for ‘normal’ day to day vision and not for the sole purposes of individual’s work.

The University may, with departmental approval, reimburse some additional childcare costs incurred when an individual has to attend training or a conference outside their normal working hours.

Childcare costs incurred in the performance of normal duties, or training/conferences taking place during normal working hours should not be reimbursed. Any reimbursements made in these circumstances will be subject to tax and National Insurance.

þ Case Study Example - Safety eyewear equipment with prescription lenses

Gerald works in a specific area of research with laser and other highly technical visual equipment. In order to perform his work, Gerald requires safety equipment to protect his eyesight. As a prescription glasses wearer, Gerald needs bespoke protective eyewear made in accordance with his prescription that will only be used by himself. He needs to undergo an eye test in order for his prescription to be updated and new protective equipment to be issued.

Under Principle 1 and 3, value for money is achieved and the equipment is for business (and safety) purposes only. Gerald must have the protective equipment and the University has a duty of care to provide these.
 

  • Gerald MUST get his eyes tested at a University preferred optician to claim this cost through the expenses process and if the University cannot pay for the safety equipment directly, Gerald may also claim this cost through the expenses process.

Examples of additional sundry costs that can and should not be claimed:

 

ý Cannot be claimed. Uniforms, workwear and protective clothing costs. Under Principle 2, the University should pay directly. The University will issue appropriate uniforms and workwear etc as appropriate and pay for these costs directly. 
ý Cannot be claimed. Official University clothes (mortar boards, gowns, hoods and caps etc). Under Principle 3, a personal benefit is received. These are personal costs and should not be reimbursed by the University. Where departments pay for the purchase or hire of these for an individual, tax and National Insurance must be paid.
ý Cannot be claimed. Personal credit card costs for late payment, interest and personal items. Under Principle 1, these are an unnecessary and excessive use of funds.
ý Cannot be claimed. General private medical health insurance for University personnel. Under Principle 1, this is not value for money. The University does not normally cover individual private healthcare insurance costs. Where individuals do qualify, tax and National Insurance costs will be incurred. 
þ Private medical health insurance for University personnel when required to work overseas where specific health insurance is recommended.. Under Principle 1, this is value for money. The University has a duty of care to its people and when required, will pay these costs. In the first instance, the University should pay the cost directly. If this is not possible, a reimbursement can claimed.
ý Cannot be claimed. Medical examinations. Under Principle 1, this is not value for money. The University will make all the necessary arrangements directly with the medical practitioner and pay for all costs incurred directly. Any costs paid for by the individual should not be reimbursed.
ý Cannot be claimed. Eyewear, harnesses, head protection etc. Under Principle 2, the University should pay directly. The University will issue appropriate safety equipment and pay for these costs directly. 
þ Specialist safety equipment designed for individual needs. Under Principle 3, these costs are for University purposes. If the University cannot pay directly, specialist safety equipment may be claimed through the expenses process.

From time to time it may be appropriate to present gifts. For example it may be culturally expected that an official gift is given to an individual on behalf of the University, or departments may consider it appropriate to give a small gift to staff to mark a special occasion.

Note: gifts may be considered taxable.

The costs of gifts can only be claimed if they are:

  • not in return for service(s), including retirement gifts;
  • not money or vouchers;
  • in line with the Gifts and Hospitality Policy;
  • trivial (less than £50); or
  • not regularly occurring.

All members of the University must act, and be seen to act, at all times in a manner that is fair, impartial and without favouritism or bias. Departments and claimants should also be made aware of the University’s Anti-Bribery Policy.

þ Case Study Example - Acceptable use of gifts

André is travelling to China as part of his research where it is culturally expected to present gifts. In preparation for his meetings, André purchases a number of small, inexpensive items from the University shop to give appropriately during his stay.

Under Principle 1 and 3, value for money is achieved and the gifts are for the furtherance of the University.

Examples of gift costs that can and should not be claimed:

 

þ An ordinary bottle of wine to a University colleague to mark a special occasion. Under Principle 1, this is a reasonable expense. A regular bottle of non-vintage wine at a trivial cost is classed as a reasonable expense by HMRC and can be given without any tax implications.
ý Should not be claimed. A bottle of vintage wine or specialist spirit alcohol for a University colleague. Under Principle 3, a personal benefit is received. Expensive wines and spirits are classed as a personal benefit and therefore tax and National Insurance must be paid on the cost of the item.
ý Should not be claimed. Any cash gift. Under Principle 3, a personal benefit is received.

The University does NOT allow cash gifts of any kind. The CLAIMANT would be liable for tax and National Insurance on the value of the cash sum NOT the recipient. 

þ Chocolates given to a University colleague to mark a special occasion. Under Principle 1, this is a reasonable expense. Chocolates are classed as a reasonable expense by HMRC and can be given without any tax implications.
þ Flowers given to mark a special occasion. Under Principle 1, this is a reasonable expense. Flowers at a cost under £50 are classed as a reasonable expense by HMRC and can be given without any tax implications.
þ Turkeys or Christmas puddings, Easter eggs etc. Under Principle 1, this is value for money and a reasonable expense. Occasional seasonal gifts to University personnel are classed as a reasonable expense by HMRC and can be given without any tax implications.
ý Should not be claimed. Any gift vouchers or tokens. Under Principle 1, this is not value for money. The University does NOT allow monetary vouchers or tokens as gifts of any kind. 

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