Spending money on clothes for work is something that most people do without thinking too much about it. It’s regarded as a necessary expense by many, simply a requirement of the job. Of course for many employees, the cost of work clothes is often offset by the fact that they’ll be able to make use of them in a non-work environment. There’s no problem using your business suit for a friend’s wedding, or perhaps wearing that new work skirt for dinner on Friday night. However, for people whose job requires them to adhere to a specific dress code – like nurses and healthcare professionals – the chances of them wearing their work clothes in a non-work environment are probably slim.
If you need to wear a nurses’ uniform to work, or you have an outfit with a company logo emblazoned on the front, then you’re very unlikely to wear those clothes outside of a work setting. In the healthcare industry, the majority of staff will wear items of clothing that are specific to their profession. Surgical scrubs, nurses’ tunics, doctors’ coats, paramedics’ slacks, orderly uniforms and even specific shoes and tights are all commonly expected in hospitals across the country. And while employees may be responsible for washing, repairing and even replacing their own uniforms, many don’t realise that there’s the opportunity to claim some of the expense back.
Tax rebates on work uniforms
If your role requires you to spend money on clothing that is necessary for your job, then you may be eligible for tax relief on that amount. You can put in a claim if you need to wear a recognisable outfit for work, if your employer requires that you wear it while on duty and if you have paid income tax in the year you’re claiming for. It is possible to reclaim hundreds of pounds in overpaid taxes for the current financial year, and a maximum of four years previous.
Are all items of clothing covered?
Whilst you’re allowed to claim tax relief if you spend money on cleaning, repairing and replacing certain items of uniform, you are not allowed to claim for the initial cost of buying those items. It is also important to check whether your employer already claims for a rebate, or offers onsite washing facilities before putting in your own claim. Even if you do not use the facility provided by your employer, if it has been made available then you won’t be able to claim for cleaning costs.
How much money can I get back?
If you submit a successful claim, the amount of money that you can expect to be refunded can depend on a variety of factors. It comes down to the industry that you work in, the number of years you’re claiming for and, in some cases, whereabouts in UK you work. Some professions have flat rate expenses, including the healthcare sector, which is defined by HMRC as staff in the National Health Service as well as in private hospitals and nursing homes. The flat rate expense for healthcare professionals ranges depending on your role within the sector, but it can be up to £140 per year. The benefit of receiving a flat rate expense for uniform maintenance is that you won’t need to keep detailed records of every amount you spend on your uniform during the year.
The standard uniform maintenance allowance (for any industry sector) in 2014/15 is £60, meaning a basic rate taxpayer would be eligible for a refund of £12 – 20 per cent of the £60 spent. A higher rate taxpayer would get £24 back – 40 per cent of the £60 spent. Again, depending on your role, this rate may vary.
How to make a claim
If you believe that you may be eligible to claim a tax refund and it is your first time, then you will need to get in touch with the tax office by post at HM Revenue & Customs, Pay As You Earn, PO Box 1970, Liverpool, L75 1WX. You’ll need to include various details about your claim, including:
– The name and address of your employer
– Your job title and industry
– Details of the expenses you’re claiming for, i.e. laundry or repair costs
– Information about cleaning services provided by your company
– Details of any financial assistance provided by your employer to cover such costs
– Guidance on whether you want a rebate via cheque or for the amount to be deducted from your current year’s tax liability.
Claiming a tax rebate is straightforward once you have the relevant details to hand and many workers could be entitled to a substantial amount. You can visit HMRC’s website for more information.
This guide was created by Harveys, established for sixty years as one of the UK’s leading providers of uniforms and protective work wear. Harveys specialise in providing a range of healthcare uniforms for both the NHS and private sectors, including scrubs and tabards in a range of styles and colours which are designed to be durable, comfortable and functional.