Uniform Tax Rebates - Claim Your Tax Relief

If you’re paying to clean, repair or replace your uniform or specialised clothing you need for work, you’re probably owed tax back. You won’t get it automatically. You've got to claim it, and have solid proof of what you’re spending. The rules around uniform tax relief (sometimes called uniform benefits or uniform allowance) are tricky. Not everything you wear necessarily counts as a “uniform”, even if it’s something you only wear for work. Those complications lead to many people losing out on uniform tax rebates totalling hundreds of pounds and stretching back years.

Tax Rebates for UniformsHow can I get a tax rebate on my uniform costs?

Here’s what it takes to make the most of your uniform tax relief:

  • Firstly, and most obviously, you need to be wearing specialised clothing for your work. It doesn’t matter if it’s not strictly a “uniform”. It does have to be essential to your job, though. A chicken costume might be a perfectly acceptable uniform when you’re an entertainer in an amusement park. Just don’t expect to get any HMRC cash for wearing it to your job on a building site.
  • The other big rule is that you need to be paying for the upkeep or replacement yourself. If the cash isn’t coming from your own pocket, you won’t get a uniform allowance for it.
  • Thirdly, you have to be paying income tax in the first place. Uniform benefits aren’t a free handout. They’re a refund of tax you’ve already paid. You can’t claim back what you haven’t paid out.

Different industries have their own rules about uniform tax relief, but the list above covers the basics affecting almost everyone. One thing that’s worth keeping in mind is that you won’t get a uniform allowance when you first buy the clothing you need. The tax relief only kicks in when you pay to repair, replace or clean it.

At RIFT Tax Refunds we can claim for your uniform expenses only as part of your travel tax refund claim. 

Tax Rebates for UniformsWhat counts as a uniform for tax rebates?

This is something that trips a lot of people up. Uniform tax refunds are only for clothing that’s essential to do your job. For example:

  • You wear a uniform indicative of a particular job, including a branded uniform or a police uniform.
  • You have to buy, clean or repair the uniform yourself.

You won’t get anything for your everyday wardrobe, for instance – even if it’s something you never wear casually. Even something like a business suit won’t usually count, regardless of whether your boss insists you wear one. A sweater with a stitched-on company logo will qualify, though, as long as you’re required to wear it. Remember, just pinning a company badge to your sleeve won’t impress the taxman.

Another thing to watch out for is that not every piece of clothing your employer hands out automatically counts for a uniform tax refund. If HMRC decides it’s something you could reasonably wear while you’re not at work, you’ll get nothing for it.

So, as you can probably tell, there’s a fair amount of grey area and wiggle-room here – and we don’t just mean dirty collars and ill-fitting trousers. It’s easy to end up not claiming back everything you’re owed if you don’t have a tight grip on the rules. You’ll get some filthy looks, and maybe even some eye-watering penalties, from the taxman if he thinks you’re over-claiming, though. That alone puts a lot of people off from even making a claim. 

Tax Rebates For UniformsWhat is a uniform tax refund actually worth?

Of course, how much you can claim for your uniform allowance depends very much on the work you do. As a general rule, HMRC reckons most people spend about £60 a year keeping their work clothes in good shape. With the basic tax rate set at 20%, that means you can claim £12 back from HMRC. We know; it doesn’t sound like much but that’s not the end of the story.

For one thing, the amount you can claim doubles if you’re in the higher rate tax band. When you pay some of your tax at 40%, the uniform refund you can claim goes up as well. Beyond that, there are all sorts of industries that have their own uniform allowances. The list of these is pretty long, but it’s mostly about industries with particular clothing needs and requirements. Workers in the NHS have their own rules, for instance, along with people in fire services, construction and certain engineering jobs. All of these can have uniform allowances higher than the basic £60.

Tax Rebates For UniformsI don't wear a uniform. Do specific worth clothes count?

Exactly what counts as a uniform can be pretty broad. In fact, some things that count for uniform tax relief aren’t necessarily “clothes” at all.

Goggles, heat-proof gloves, helmets and goggles are all great examples of protective gear covered by uniform benefits. However, with PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) if you're job requires you to use it your employer should either give you it free of charge or reimburse you in full if you have to buy it.

The same thing counts if your job requires you to change clothes during the day. A PE teacher who puts on a sports kit in the afternoon would probably have a refund claim, for example.

Tax Rebates For UniformsCan I still claim if my employer pays for my laundry or provides facilities for it?

Uniform tax relief is only for people who pay for their work clothing’s upkeep themselves. A nasty little wrinkle in the rules means that you can’t claim anything at all for laundry if your employer provides free facilities for it – even if you never use them. Paying for your own laundry when there’s a free option provided won’t impress the taxman – and it won’t score you any refund cash. That said, if you’re getting reimbursed for part of your costs but you’re still out of pocket, there’s a good chance you’re owed some tax back.

Another thing that’s worth checking is whether your boss already handles your uniform tax relief for you. You obviously can’t make a tax rebate claim when your employer’s already taken care of it. The taxman does understand that mistakes happen from time to time. You won’t necessarily be penalised for submitting a claim that’s been made already. If you’re lucky, you might just get off with a rejection and a letter from HMRC. It’s still better never to make the mistake in the first place, though.

Keeping recordsWhat records should I keep for my uniform tax refund claim?

The paperwork you need to back up your claim depends on your situation, but it shouldn’t be a huge hassle. If you decide to use HMRC’s pre-set flat rates, for instance, there’s really not much to do. It’s still definitely worth keeping at least a rough track of what you’re spending, though. If you’re forking out significantly more than the HMRC estimates will cover, a few receipts and records will go a long way toward proving it.

Uniform Tax RefundsWhat if I've missed out in previous years?

Don’t panic if you’ve never made a uniform tax relief claim before. It may not be too late to get back what you’re owed from previous years. HMRC lets you claim back overpaid tax for up to 4-years, so even if you’ve never claimed before you could still be in luck.

Tax Rebates For UniformsI'm self-employed. Can I still claim a uniform tax rebate?

Tax refunds really only apply to people who are paid through the Pay As You earn (PAYE) system. Self-employed people, on the other hand, use Self Assessment tax returns to report their earnings and expenses to HMRC. Even so, the money you spend on your work clothes when you’re self-employed can still be used to bring down your tax bill. In fact, there are lots of essential work costs that count against your taxable profits each year. RIFT has a special service for people using Self Assessment. We can handle all the paperwork, save you money and keep you in the taxman’s good books all at once!

Other Tax RebatesCan I claim for more than just my uniform?

Yes! There are absolutely loads of essential work expenses that can earn you tax back from HMRC. Most people never even realise that they’re missing out on refunds for anything from

  • small tools
  • fuel costs to
  • licenses and professional subscriptions
  • travel to temporary workplaces
  • visa to vaccinations

RIFT has been tackling the taxman for our customers since 1999, and we’re the UK’s leading experts in putting refund cash back in your pocket. If you have a travel claim to make, along with your other expenses, get in touch by phone or email to find out what you could claim. It costs nothing to see what you qualify for.

Want more?Common FAQs

  • How far back can I claim for a uniform tax rebate?

    It's possible to claim for the last four tax years. That could add up to a substantial refund value.

  • Can I claim for protective clothing?

    No, you cannot claim for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). 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 you the costs 

  • Do I need to provide receipts?

    If you want to claim the exact amount spent then yes you will need a copy of your receipts. If you don't have receipts you can claim via flat rate expenses which allow you to claim tax relief for a standard amount (a flat rate) each tax year.

  • How long will my claim take?

    It can take between 8-12 weeks for HMRC to process your tax refund claim.

Uniform tax refundsNeed more information?

We've pulled together a guide on uniform benefits and allowances that summarises everything you need to know about what you could be entitled to. Click on the lin below to read more.

RIFT GuaranteeOur 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.

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.

Do I Qualify?

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