If you need to spend money on tools or specialist clothing for your job, you may be entitled to tax relief.
When you can get tax relief for tools and specialist clothing
Generally, employees are not entitled to tax relief against the cost of work clothing, though there are exceptions. If you work in a sector where protective clothing is necessary (such as the building trade or in metalworking) you’ll need some or all of the following:
You will also be entitled to tax relief if you are expected to pay for all costs of repair, cleaning or replacing the specialist clothing. You may not claim for the initial outlay of purchasing the clothing.
You will also be entitled to tax relief against any tools you must buy to be able to perform your job. For example, as a hairdresser your employer may expect you to purchase your own scissors; this tax relief will also apply against maintenance and replacement costs.
What about uniforms?
You are entitled to tax relief against the cost of repair, cleaning and replacement of the uniform on condition that:
- The uniform is recognisable, demonstrating that you have a certain job – examples are nurses and police officers
- You are required to wear it on the job
- You must pay for it yourself
Flat Rate Expenses
If you are required to spend your own money on the tools or specialist clothing mentioned above, there are two ways of getting your tax relief back:
- tax relief for the actual amount that you spent on the items
- or a ‘flat rate deduction’
The flat rate deduction is a nationally agreed amount by HMRC. There may be local variations in some cases where conditions differ, such as with trade unions and other bodies. Flat rate deduction typically covers what employees in different trades will normally spend each year. An individual working in the clothing industry gets a deduction of £60 each year, a cabinet maker is entitled to £140 per year while a stone mason’s entitlement is £120; it is not required that you be a member of a trade union to get the deduction either.
Flat rate expense example
To calculate the value, you will need to know the tax rate that you pay – you will always get the relief against the highest tax band that you pay. Therefore, if you’re a cabinet maker paying the basic tax rate then you will get a £28 reduction in your tax bill, which is worked out as 20% of £140.
Pro’s and Con’s
You will usually get considerably more money back if you have spent more than the amount of the flat rate deduction you are allowed, but you will have to provide receipts. Typically this type of claim is made by way of reclaiming capital allowances. This is not easy to do which is why we’re here to help.
Flat rate deduction
You’ll benefit from having to fill out less paperwork and you will not be expected to keep a record of each expenditure, but you will lose out if you spend more than the flat rate deduction.
You may also claim several years of relief – the time you have to claim is four tax years.