Wearing a uniform for work can be a source of pride and prestige, and a way to demonstrate one’s status or membership to an esteemed organisation. For others, it can be seen as another oppressive corporate requirement that inhibits their personal expression.
But irrespective of how you feel about wearing a uniform; you still need to do the washing. And that can seriously ramp up your utility bills. So you'll be pleased to hear that there’s a tax rebate available for those who stride out in company colours.
And that’s a good thing, as 16% of the UK workforce, or 5,280,000 people, still wear some kind of uniform to work. In fact, the global workwear clothing market as a whole is set to reach $42.7 billion by 2026. Which is a lot of boxes of detergent…
So no doubt you’ll want to claim back every penny possible. Read on to find out how.
Can I claim?
Before we discuss the type and amount of rebate available let’s ensure that you are eligible to claim, and that we are clear on what a uniform actually is in the view of HMRC.
A uniform is not clothing that you choose to wear for work, that you have not been specifically requested to wear by your employer. For example, a construction worker will probably wear clothes that they ‘’don’t mind’’ getting covered in plaster, cement, dust, paint etc. (Although many people working in skilled-labour jobs might be eligible for special kinds of uniform tax rebates, which we’ll come onto).
Like an old fleece and a pair of combat trousers. (Although as mentioned, things like steel-toed boots or a hard-hat may qualify). You have essentially chosen to wear those clothes to work without being asked by your employer.
However, to compare a similar example of a trades-person such as a heating-engineer, they may well be required to wear a branded polo-shirt or fleece with the company logo on it. Which is a uniform, as it’s an obligation set by their employer.
*Members of the Armed Forces are not able to claim this rebate independently from HMRC. As the expenses associated with upkeep of your uniform are relieved by a raise in your personal allowance, paid through your code.
**If you have to wear PPE for your job then this should be reimbursed or provided for free by your employer.
Here are the official criteria from HMRC that you need to meet in order to be eligible for uniform tax-relief/a rebate:
- Your uniform identifies you as holding a particular job-role which may be visible from any branding or logos on the clothing. The list is extensive, but some obvious examples would include; fire-fighters, airline pilots; all grades of nurses (including student nurses), supermarket sales assistants, motor mechanics, police officers, railway workers.
- You are required to wear a uniform according to the terms of your contract.
- You, and not your employer, pay for the cleaning, repair or maintenance of your uniform.
- You currently pay income tax
If you're self-employed you can claim a tax rebate for your uniform as allowable business expenses. An example of this would be a gas engineer wearing a branded t-shirt with a company logo.
You can also claim the cost of ‘’laundry’’, provided that your laundry expenses are ’Wholly and Exclusively’’ incurred for the purposes of running your business. I.e. they are absolutely necessary for your business to function.
In addition to the uniform the cost of protective clothing can also be claimed as allowable business expenses.
This comes after a First Tier Tribunal ruled in 2018 that self-employed sewage workers were entitled to claim for the cost of washing their protective clothing.
What can you claim?
For the majority of professions you can claim a tax-relief for uniforms at a flat-rate of £60 annual allowance. Which is £12 if you're on the 20% basic tax-rate, and £24 if you are on the 40% higher tax-rate.
There’s no requirement to provide evidence of the expenses such as receipts as the rebate is given at a flat-rate. And you can still claim even if you just wore a uniform for only a day.
As you can backdate claims for tax-relief for up to 4 years you can claim a total of £58 - this year plus 4 previous years, if you haven't claimed before.
There are several industries that have higher rates available for uniform tax-rebates. Which in one case is over £1000! A few examples of different entitlements include:
- Dredger drivers - £80
- All agricultural workers - £100
- Stone masons - £120
- Pattern makers - £140
- Carpenters (seafaring) - £165
- Airline pilots - £1022
To find out exactly what you can claim for your particular vocation read HMRC’s list.
In order to claim a higher amount than the listed rates you will need to provide evidence of expenses in the form of receipts and complete a P87. If you’re not sure how to do this or have questions about any kind of tax-relief you can speak to our friendly advisors.
For self-employed individuals you can claim for the same amount of what you have spent on laundry if you have retained the receipts.
How to claim
To claim a uniform tax rebate go to HMRC’s website, find the ‘Claim tax relief for your job expenses’ page and click on ‘Uniforms, work clothing and tools’ link in the page menu. Or click this link to be taken directly to it.
At the bottom of the page you’ll find the button to start the online application, which begins with an assessment. Follow the instructions and you’ll be guided through the process.
If you’re self-employed you can claim for uniforms, protective garments and costumes for performers as allowable expenses when you complete your self-assessment tax return. Enter the amount in box 18 of the SA102 page.
How/when is it paid?
You’ll receive your rebate through a new tax-code which marginally raises your net pay. This will typically happen the same month, or the month after your tax code is changed. For a backdated claim that covers preceding years you’ll be paid in the form of a tax refund or via a new tax-code. HMRC will issue a correspondence to you that will outline the amount and date of the payment.
As with other forms of tax-relief claims can be backdated for up to 4 years, regardless of whether you have changed employers within this period.
Many people who are required to wear uniforms for work, and incur significant costs for their maintenance, are not currently claiming the tax rebates that they are due. Although it may be a small financial relief it’s still worth taking. As when combined with other tax deductible expenses this can amount to a decent financial saving and collectively help to uphold the rights of workers.