Tax Rebates for Uniforms

You can claim a tax refund if you have to clean, repair or replace specialist clothing you wear for work.There are specific rules about who qualifies for it and what counts as a "uniform" that are not always clear. As a result, a lot of people are missing out on years' worth of tax rebates totalling hundreds of pounds.

Tax Rebates for Uniforms

Can I get a tax rebate on uniform costs?

In order to get a tax rebate on your uniform you've got to:

  • Wear specialised clothing for work. It doesn't necessarily have to be overalls or a suit, but it does have to be a necessary part of your job. Wearing a chicken costume when you're a performer in an amusement park would probably qualify. Wearing one when you're an accountant might not.
  • Pay for the laundry or upkeep yourself. If the money isn't coming out of your own pocket, you can't claim back tax on it.
  • Pay income tax. Again, this is just common sense. You can't claim tax back that you aren't paying in the first place.

There are a couple of other wrinkles in the rules, mostly relating to specific industries. These are the basics that apply to pretty much everyone, though. One odd point to keep in mind is that you generally can't claim for the initial cost of the clothing. Repairing, cleaning or replacing it is usually fair game, though.

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Tax Rebates for Uniforms

What counts as a uniform for a refund?

The question of what counts as a uniform trips a lot of people up. You can't simply claim for whatever clothes you wear for work. Your clothing needs to be identifiably a necessity of your job to count. For instance, a normal suit won't usually qualify for tax relief, even if your employer insists you wear it. A jumper with a company logo, however, would entitle you to tax relief (unless it's a detachable badge or something similar).

You can't necessarily claim tax back for cleaning your clothes just because they were given to you by your employer, either. If your "uniform" is something you could reasonably wear outside of work, you can't expect any cash back from HMRC.

There are obviously some difficult grey areas here - and we're not just talking about dirty collars. A lot of people either end up not claiming what they should, or getting stern looks from the taxman for claiming too much. If you're not sure whether your work clothes count as a uniform, talk to RIFT. We'll quickly let you know exactly where you stand.

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Tax Rebates For Uniforms

How much is a tax refund for uniforms worth?

Your tax refund for your uniform depends on the work you do and the tax band you're in. As a basic rule, HMRC estimates that it costs most people £60 per year to maintain their work clothes. At the basic rate of tax, that means you're entitled to £12 (20% of £60) back from HMRC.

That's not where the story ends, though. Higher rate taxpayers get their 40% tax back (£24), while different industries sometimes have different allowances. The list of jobs with their own rules is pretty huge, but tends to focus on industries with particular clothing requirements. Fire services, the NHS, certain engineering and construction jobs and many others have allowances higher than £60.

Tax Rebates For Uniforms

I don't wear a uniform but do specific worth clothes count?

Sometimes, specialised work clothing actually means things like safety gear. Keeping things like helmets, goggles and protective gloves in good order is obviously essential. If you're paying for this yourself, and not getting reimbursed by your employer, then you should qualify for tax relief. You still can't claim tax back against the initial cost of buying them, though.

Also, you may find that the clothes you wear to work may sometimes be different from those you wear at work. A PE teacher, for example, might show up in the morning in normal clothes. Actually doing the job, however, might mean changing into a sports kit later in the day. The kit is an essential part of the work, so would usually entitle the teacher to tax relief.

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Our guarantee means you'll never lose a penny

When you claim your tax rebate with RIFT, our unique RIFT Guarantee means that you don't have to worry about the taxman reclaiming any of your money. So long as you give us full and accurate information, if HMRC disagrees with the amount that we’ve claimed and ask for the money back, we’ll pay it. It won’t cost you a penny.

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Tax Rebates For Uniforms

Can I still claim if my employer pays for my laundry or provides facilities for it?

Generally, you can’t claim a HMRC uniform allowance for your laundry costs unless you’re coughing up the cash for it yourself. In fact, in certain circumstances, you might have trouble even when you’re paying from your own pocket. A weird little wrinkle in the laundry rules means that, as long as your employer’s providing you with facilities like a free laundry room, you can’t claim a uniform tax rebate - even if you don’t use it for some reason. So, if you decide to pay for your own laundry instead, the mere fact that your employer’s facilities exist stops you from claiming for the costs. Obviously, the same goes if you’re getting your laundry costs reimbursed.

While we’re on the subject, you might find that your employer already handles your tax relief for you. It’s worth checking this out if you’re not sure, because you’re not allowed to claim again for anything your boss is already sorting out. HMRC understands that mistakes can happen, so getting it wrong might mean nothing more than a denied claim and a letter from the taxman. It’s always better never to claim anything you’re not allowed to in the first place, though.

Uniform Tax Refunds

Do I need to keep receipts?

The paperwork your tax refund claim requires depends on what you're claiming. For uniform tax rebates, most people won't need to keep anything specific. HMRC's flat rates don't require a lot of bookkeeping to claim. You do still have to know roughly what you spent in a year, though. If it's costing you significantly more than HMRC's estimates, then good records will help you prove it.

Uniform Tax Refunds

Can I claim for previous years?

If you haven't claimed before, you still may be ok. The HMRC rules say you can claim back your money for up to 4 years, so it may not be too late. Even if you've never even thought of claiming before, you could still get back what the taxman owes you. An average 4-year tax refund comes to about £2,500, so call or email RIFT to find out if you're owed a refund.

Tax Rebates For Uniforms

Can I claim if I'm self employed?

Self-employed people work out their taxes through the Self Assessment system, providing a yearly tax return. This means they don't claim refunds from HMRC in the same way as employed people. However, if you're self-employed, there are still lots of unavoidable expenses that can bring down your tax bill. Talk to RIFT about our Self Assessment Tax Return system. We'll help you get the tax relief you're entitled to, and keep you in the taxman's good books at the same time.

Other Tax Rebates

Can I claim for more than just my uniform?

There are lots of everyday work expenses that entitle you to tax relief, but so many people just don't realise they qualify. Small tools from hairdressing scissors to masonry drills can count for a rebate claim, as can required licences or professional subscriptions. This is a huge and often misunderstood area of tax law.

One of the biggest tax rebate issues is travel to temporary workplaces, but anything from visas to vaccinations can count. RIFT Tax Refunds has been putting money back into people's pockets since 1999. Just contact us to find out for free what tax relief you qualify for.

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Need more help?

Wondering if you can claim a tax refund or need to submit a tax return? Use our online tools to find out if you're owed money by HMRC.

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