Expert advice

Tax relief: find out how much you could be claiming back

How to get a refund or money off your tax bill for expenses, from membership fees to laundry

How to get a refund or money off your tax bill for expenses, from membership fees to laundry

Tax relief is when you can claim tax back on certain expenses incurred as part of your job.

In order to be eligible, you must be a UK taxpayer and have paid tax in the tax year that you are claiming for.

How is tax relief calculated?

Relief is calculated based on what you have spent and the rate at which you pay tax. For example, if you have spent 60 on expenses and your tax rate was 20% for that year, you can claim 12 tax relief.

What can I claim tax relief on?

How to get a refund or money off your tax bill for expenses, from membership fees to laundry

Picture: iStock

Tax relief is when you can claim tax back on certain expenses incurred as part of your job.

In order to be eligible, you must be a UK taxpayer and have paid tax in the tax year that you are claiming for.

How is tax relief calculated?

Relief is calculated based on what you have spent and the rate at which you pay tax. For example, if you have spent £60 on expenses and your tax rate was 20% for that year, you can claim £12 tax relief.

What can I claim tax relief on?

You can claim tax relief on professional membership fees, if you must pay them to be able to do your job. So, for registered nurses and nursing associates this includes your annual Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registration fee, as long as you pay this yourself rather than it being paid by an employer.

You can also make a claim for annual subscriptions to approved professional bodies or learned societies, if being a member of that body or society is relevant to your job. This includes the RCN, Unison, the Infection Prevention Society and the British Association of Critical Care Nurses. The government has published a list of approved organisations on its website.

How much you can claim depends on a number of variables, including the cost of your fees and your tax situation, but RCN guidance states that ,as a rough guide, members who are UK taxpayers can claim up to 20% of their RCN membership fee. If you subscribe to Nursing Standard, this subscription is also eligible for tax relief.

Tax relief is also available on shoes, where the wearing of a prescribed style is obligatory in a hospital or other workplace, says HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Currently this is set at £12 a year. Additionally, you may be able to claim £6 a year in tax relief for stockings, tights or socks, where a prescribed colour or style is also obligatory.

You can also claim tax relief if you wash your own uniform, unless your employer provides this service and you choose not to use it. A flat rate of £125 a year was agreed for 2013-14 onwards but rates may change – see the HMRC website for details.

You can request a deduction for laundry expenses that exceed this amount but would need to provide evidence in the form of receipts.

And you may be able to claim tax relief if you use your own car for work, but again this depends on various factors, including whether you receive the full mileage allowance from your employer and whether that is taxed. Seek advice from HMRC.

What about personal protective equipment (PPE)?

According to HMRC, you cannot claim tax relief for PPE. If your job requires you to use PPE your employer should either:

  • Give you PPE free of charge.
  • Ask you to buy it and reimburse the costs.

How many nurses claim tax relief?

A 2014 NMC survey found that 70% of 510 nurses and midwives polled did not claim tax relief on their NMC fees.

Among the comments from those taking part in the survey was the assumption that the process would be difficult and lengthy.

How do I make a claim?

There are different ways to claim, depending on your circumstances.

You can claim using the HMRC online service, which enables you to submit claims for multiple tax years and for up to five different jobs. You will get a reference number to track progress.

After you have made your first claim, you can then claim by phone, as long as your total expense claim is less than £1,000, or £2,500 for professional fees and subscriptions.

The RCN also provides a downloadable form. You will need your national insurance number, payroll number, RCN membership number and tax reference, if known, and then have to post the form to HMRC.

How far back can I claim?

The general time limit for making a claim is four years after the end of the tax year in question.

For example, if you wanted to claim for the tax year 2017-18, you would need to submit your claim by 5 April 2022.

How do I get the money back?

If your claim is for the current tax year, HMRC will usually make adjustments through your tax code. If your claim is for previous tax years, HMRC will either make adjustments through your tax code or give you a refund.


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