In the face of rising living costs, it’s never been more important to maximise your income however you can.
Claiming tax relief where you’re entitled to it is one way to get a bit of money back in your pocket. When you claim tax relief, you’ll pay less tax, and so will receive a bigger portion of your income. It often isn’t much, but every little helps!
Read on to find out what you can claim tax relief on, how to claim, and how much you’ll receive.
What can I claim tax relief on?
You can claim tax relief on a range of work-related expenses, such as:
- working from home – if you are required to as part of your job and incur extra household costs for doing so
- cleaning, repairing or replacing work clothes or uniforms
- maintaining, repairing or replacing small tools you need to do your job
- the cost of owning and running a vehicle you use for work
- professional membership fees which you must pay to be able to do your job
- travel and overnight expenses like train tickets, hotels, and the cost of food and drink
- other equipment like a computer that you need to do your job
In all cases, you can only claim tax relief if your employer hasn’t already given you the money back for your expenses, and isn’t going to.
How much can I claim?
How much you can claim in tax relief depends on the type of expenses you have. You can claim tax relief on:
- the actual amount you’ve spent on uniforms, work clothes and tools (with receipts as proof), or a flat rate expense that’s dependent on your job
- distance travelled on business in your own vehicle, according to approved mileage rates, as long as you keep records of all your business journeys, minus anything your employer pays you towards your costs
- fuel used when driving a company car, as long as you’ve kept the receipts
- professional membership fees, in line with what the organisation you’re a member of says you can claim back
- any business travel expenses, as long as you’ve kept the receipts
- the full cost of equipment you must buy to do your job
How much you’ll receive is then determined by the rate of tax you pay. If you’re a basic rate (20%) taxpayer, then you’ll usually receive 20% of the amount you’re claiming for back in your pocket. If you’re a higher rate (40%) taxpayer, you’ll receive 40% back. For example:
- you’ve driven 6,000 miles for business in the last tax year, and your employer hasn’t paid you anything towards your expenses
- this means you can claim tax relief on 45p per mile, in line with approved mileage rates, which is equal to £2,700
- if you’re a basic rate taxpayer, this means you’ll receive £540 back. If you’re a higher rate taxpayer, you’ll receive £1,080
Things to watch out for
When claiming tax relief on your work expenses, there are a few things to watch out for to make sure you submit your claim correctly:
Uniforms, work clothes and tools
While you can claim tax relief on the cost of cleaning, repairing or replacing work clothes or uniform, you cannot claim tax relief on the expense of buying what you need in the first place. The same goes for tools.
If you are expected to pay for your own work clothes and tools from the off, then it’s worth checking your employer’s policy to find out if and how they’ll reimburse you for these expenses.
Additionally, it's useful to know how HMRC defines "work clothes" because there are some types of clothes you can't claim tax relief on. To be eligible for tax relief, your work clothes must be a specialised set of clothes that identify you buy your occupation. For example, a paramedic's uniform, or items of clothing that bear your employer's logo. If you're asked by your employer to follow a certain dress code or wear a particular colour at work, but can still wear your own clothes, then unfortunately you can't claim tax relief on this.
PPE and tax relief
PPE (personal protective equipment) covers all sorts of safety gear you may be required to wear to do your job. For example, safety goggles, ear defenders, hard hats and specialist shoes are all types of PPE.
If you are required to wear PPE to do your job safely, then by law, your employer must provide it to you free of charge, or fully reimburse you for any equipment they ask you to buy for yourself. Because of this, you can’t claim tax relief on PPE.
Vehicles you use for work
The amount you can claim in tax relief towards using your own vehicle for work covers your costs to maintain your vehicle as well as the travel you do. This means that you cannot submit separate tax relief claims for things like your MOT or repairs, road tax, or fuel.
How to claim
Most of the time, you’ll be able to claim tax relief on your work expenses online. If you can’t do this, then you should be able to complete a P87 form and post it to HMRC. If you fill in a self-assessment, then you can claim tax relief on your expenses box 18 of the SA102 form.
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