Payroll and Tax Relief for Uniforms
Did you know that as an employee that if you wear a uniform of some sort to work that it is possible claim tax relief on it? It isn’t something that goes through the payroll, of course, but we like giving little bits of help and advice from time to time. This article looks at how you qualify for uniform tax relief and, if you do, how you can claim it.
How do you know if you qualify for Uniform Tax Relief?
If you wear a uniform at your place of work and you have to repair it, wash it and even replace it, then you might be able to claim tax relief on it, providing you only wear it for work purposes and nothing else. This applies whether your uniform is just a simple branded t-shirt or a full uniform such as a nurse or police officer might wear. You can’t claim for the initial cost of buying the uniform, however.
Here are some key points to help you decide if you are eligible for this tax relief – all must apply:
- You wear a recognisable uniform that shows you’ve got a certain job, like a branded T-shirt, a nurse’s or police uniform, and your employer requires you to wear it while you’re working.
- You have to purchase, clean, repair or replace it yourself. However, you can’t claim if your employer washes your kit, provides facilities to do so (even if you don’t use them) or pays you for doing this maintenance.
- You paid income tax in the year you are claiming for.
It’s worth noting that the armed forces aren’t included in this tax relief scheme as the cost paid for the maintenance of their uniforms should be dealt with through their tax code, with their tax-free personal allowance raised to compensate. The picture isn’t quite so clear if you’re in the police force, as some forces already claim it. Each police force has their own arrangement, so it’s worth checking what your own force does and whether you can claim.
How Much Can I claim and how do I claim?
Firstly it’s important to note that claims can be backdated for 4 years, plus the current year. So if you were to claim today, October 2017, you could claim for 4 completed years, back to tax year 2013/2014. Even if you no longer wear a uniform, you can still claim for the year/years that you did, within the last 4 years.
The amount you’re able to claim tax relief on depends on your industry. The standard flat rate expense allowance (FREA) for uniform maintenance is £60 (for 2017/18) – so basic-rate taxpayers can claim £12 back (20% of £60), and higher-rate payers £24 (40% of £60). The £60 is a flat rate, so you don’t need to record and report the individual amounts you spend. Therefore, if you are a lower rate tax payer, and you’re claiming for all 4 years plus the current year, you could reclaim a total of £60. Some occupations have higher limits than £60 – click here for details.
Making a claim is reasonably straightforward, if the claim is for below £2,500, as follows:
- using a Self Assessment tax return if you already fill one in
- online or by printing and posting form P87, if you don’t already fill in a tax return
- by phone if you’ve had a successful claim in a previous year and your expenses are less than £1,000 (or £2,500 for professional fees and subscriptions)
Once you’ve registered, your tax code will change, so you’ll be taxed less in the future. If you’re on a payroll system, you’ll need to tell your employer. However, please remember that if your employer has paid back your uniform expenses, you can’t claim tax relief.
Payroll Help and Advice for Employers
Although employees can claim back this uniform expense themselves, it’s worth noting as we point out above, that if they do then their tax code will change. It is their responsibility to tell you this as their employer, but it does illustrate the point that if you were to use an outsourced payroll provider, such as J L Payroll Services then all payroll issues for all of your employees, including Uniform Relief, would be handled by us, leaving you to get on with running your business.
Contact us or call us on 0121 422 0550 for a chat about your payroll requirements.