What is classed as uniform for tax relief purposes?

HMRC’s rules about uniform and tax relief are very specific; the employee must be obliged to wear it as part of their contract, pay for it and that others would see their clothing as a uniform.

“A uniform in this context means a set of clothing of a specialised nature that is recognisable as a uniform and is intended to identify its wearer as having a particular occupation.” (EIM 32475)

This is easily identifiable for taxpayers like nurses, police officers and fire fighters. It gets a little bit trickier when it comes to other types of uniforms.

Uniform is:

  • Clothing that is branded with a company name and/or logo is considered a uniform by HMRC.
  • Some protective clothing.

Uniform might be:

  • Clothing that has a “permanent and conspicuous badge” affixed to it.
  • Formal evening drees that is a requirement of some jobs; like waiters wearing dinner jackets.
  • Protective clothing that is necessary to perform your duties like a hi viz jacket worn by a construction worker.

Uniform is not:

  • A required style or colour dress code; like a hairdressing salon that asks its staff to wear all black.
  • Any items that are worn that are no directly part of the uniform; like under garments, footwear, socks/tights
  • Ordinary clothes with the addition of a company, detachable badge

Uniform Example 1: Retail

Staff have to wear clothes from the current range available in the shop, at their own expense. These must be in the company colours of red, black and white.

They also add a pinned badge which displays the company logo and their name, when they are in store.

None of these items are allowable for uniform tax relief because they would not be recognised as a uniform by someone “in the street”.

Uniform Example 2: Cabin Crew

An airline crew have a uniform expectation of: black skirt/trousers and red jacket embroidered with company name and logo, white shirt, scarf/tie carrying the company logo, black socks and shoes, skin coloured tights.

In this instance, the crew can claim uniform tax relief for the skirt/trousers, jacket and scarf/tie because they carry the company’s name and/or logo.

Anyone “in the street” would know they are wearing a work uniform. The shirt, socks/tights and shoes are not allowable.

Uniform Example 3: Mechanics

Mechanics and other vehicle technicians need to wear protective clothing like overalls. HMRC acknowledges this fact and classes the clothing worn by mechanics as protective and needed to perform their duties.

If you have to wash your own protective clothing at your own cost you are entitled to make a claim for uniform tax relief.

Some trades and professions are eligible to claim for other work related expenses in addition to uniform tax relief for protective clothing.

Mechanics for example fall into this category because they often need to buy their own tools and toolboxes to use at work.

Claiming your uniform relief from HMRC

Before making a claim it’s worth checking your tax code doesn’t already include an allowance for uniform washing.

This means you don’t waste your own time claiming for something you are already receiving.

If you need to check your tax code for the uniform allowance you can download the HMRC app or use your HMRC personal tax account.

If you have made a claim in the past your tax code should already have the uniform allowance included meaning you don’t need to make another claim.

Our tax rebate for uniform guide can help you assess your eligibilty and make your claim directly with HMRC.

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