How to claim tax relief for employment expenses

Employees that incur expenses to carry out their jobs are able to claim tax relief subject to certain conditions. In this article, you can learn what reliefs are available to employees and how to claim for them.

If you’re an employee and you personally incur expenses in carrying out your job, you may be able to claim tax relief for those expenses. Relief is only available for expenses that you must incur, rather than those that you choose to incur, and the expenses must be incurred wholly, necessarily and exclusively in performing the duties of your job. Relief is not available for expenses that you incur to enable you to be able to do your job, such as childcare costs, nor is it available for private costs. Separate tests apply to travel expenses – relief is available for business travel but not private travel, which includes the ordinary commute.

Typical expenses

Although the expenses that an employee may incur will vary depending on the nature of their job, popular expenses for which claims may be made include travel costs, additional costs of working from home, professional fees and subscriptions, work clothing and tools and equipment.

Travel expenses

If you have to travel for your job and your employer does not meet the cost of the associated travel expenses, you may be able to claim a deduction. Typical travel expenses include public transport costs, parking fees, congestion charges and tolls and, where you travel by car, mileage costs. For most expenses the deduction is the amount that you spent. If you use your own car, you can claim a mileage allowance of 45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles in the tax year, and 25p per mile thereafter. If your employer pays you an allowance, but it is less than the approved rates, you can claim a deduction for the difference. If you have a company car, you can claim a deduction for fuel based on HMRC’s advisory fuel costs. If you do not want to use the flat rates, you can instead claim a deduction based on the actual costs, but this will involve more work.

In the event that you have to stay away overnight, you can claim the cost of any overnight accommodation and food and drink.

Working from home

If you are required to work from home, you can claim a fixed rate deduction of £6 per week (£26 per month) for additional household costs incurred as a result of working from home. If preferred, you can claim the actual amount of extra costs that you have incurred from working from home, but you will need bills and receipts to support your claim.

Professional fees and subscriptions

If you have to pay a professional fee to be able to do your job and you meet the cost yourself, you can claim a deduction. You can also claim a deduction for any subscriptions that you pay to approved professional bodies or learned societies that are on HMRC’s list.

Work clothing and tools

If you are required to wear specialist clothing to do your job, you may be able to claim the cost of cleaning, repairing or replacing that clothing. However, you are not allowed a deduction for the initial cost.

Similarly, you can claim a deduction for the cost of replacing or repairing any small tools that you need to do your job and which you provide yourself, but not the initial cost of those tools.

Making the claim

If you need to complete a self-assessment tax return (which may be the case if you also have income from employment or investment income), you can make the claim in your tax return.

If you do not need to complete a tax return, you can either make the claim online or by post on form P87.

Online claims can be made using the online service on the website. You will need to sign in using your Government ID and password. You can make a claim for multiple tax years, and also for up to five different jobs. It is advisable to make sure that you have all the information that you need before starting the claim. Once you have made the claim, you will be given a reference number which you can use to track the progress of the claim.

You can also make a claim by post on form P87, which is available on the website. Again, claims can be made for multiple tax years and also for up to five jobs. From 7 May 2022, HMRC will only accept postal claims on form P87; previously claims could be made by letter.

Tax rules change frequently and whilst this article provides general guidance, it is not tax advice.

Did you know we offer an initial free tax consultation? Get in touch to speak to a tax expert today.

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