Updated September 2016
If you wear a uniform at work, and have to wash, repair or replace it yourself, you may be able to reclaim £100s of tax for up to five years of expenses.
This applies whether it's just a branded T-shirt or you're a fully-uniformed pilot, police officer or nurse. Don't pay a claims firm, you can do it simply yourself for FREE.
In this guide...
Am I eligible for a tax rebate?
To be able to claim tax relief, ALL of the following must apply:
- You wear a recognisable uniform that shows you've got a certain job, like a branded T-shirt, nurse or police uniform. Also, we've heard reports that even plain clothes, without a logo, that you only wear for work may count - it's worth a try.
- Your employer requires you to wear it while you're working.
- You have to purchase, clean, repair or replace it yourself. However, you can't claim if your employer washes your kit, provides facilities to do so (even if you don't use them) or pays you for doing this maintenance.
- You paid income tax in the year you are claiming for.
One group that shouldn't need to go through the process is officers in the armed forces. The cost paid for the maintenance of their uniforms should be dealt with through their tax code, with their tax-free personal allowance raised to compensate.
If you're in the police force, some forces already claim it, but each have their own arrangement, so check what your force does. Other forces personnel may have washing facilities already available, so check the rules to see if you could claim.
Are you due a tax rebate? Use our free tax code checker to find out now.
How much could I get?
The amount you're able to claim tax relief on depends on your industry. The standard flat rate expense allowance (FREA) for uniform maintenance is £60 (for 2016/17) – so basic-rate taxpayers can claim £12 back (20% of £60), and higher-rate payers £24 (40% of £60). The £60 is a flat rate, so you don't need to record and report the individual amounts you spend.
Most people can claim back within the past four years, so back to 2012 - plus the current year - if you've been wearing the uniform all that time. So a basic-rate taxpayer, claiming the standard uniform allowance for 2012-2016, could reclaim £60 in total.
Once you've registered, your tax code will change, so you'll be taxed less in the future. However, if your employer has paid back your expenses, you can't claim tax relief.
Some occupations have more specific limits, often to do with specialist uniforms, with the maximum allowance of £140. A higher-rate taxpayer would get back £56 tax on that for each year they claim (basic rate £28). Check the full list of occupations to see if yours is listed.
The only way you can get more than the standard payment is to prove that your annual uniform laundry bill is higher. For any claim, you'll need to fill in a P87 form and send it off.
IMPORTANT - you can do it yourself for FREE! We've heard reports of claims handlers - particularly on Facebook - offering to do this for you, then taking a cut. That's totally unnecessary, you can simply do this by yourself for FREE.
People have claimed over £200 back for FREE!
If you need a bit more inspiration - here are a couple of the many successes we've heard since first mentioning this rebate.
I just wanted to thank Martin. I applied for a uniform tax refund for the last three years and I’ve just received £180.'butterfly legs' - May 2015
Woohoo!!!! Finally got around to doing this, I've been in a uniformed role for 5 years now, got a very tasty £250 back...'kevbev321' - Apr 2014
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How do I claim the tax back?
If this is your first time claiming a tax allowance, or the amount you paid out was more than £1,000, then you'll need to fill in a form and make your claim either online or by post.
Don't listen to claims handlers or websites offering to do this for you. Most will charge a fee, when you can easily do it yourself, for free.
Claiming for first time?
Fill in the P87 form online, you can submit it online or print it out and send it to Pay As You Earn, HM Revenue and Customs, BX9 1AS. Write 'Repayment Claim' on the envelope to speed things up. You'll need to fill in one form for each year you're claiming for.
If you need the form in an alternative format, contact the HMRC helpline on 0300 200 3300.
You'll be asked for information on:
- Employer's name and address
- Your occupation, job title and industry sector
- Your details, including your National Insurance Number and your PAYE reference
- Whether you're claiming flat rate expenses (usually you will be; if not, you'll need detailed records of costs). See flat-rate expenses allowed for different occupations.
- How you want to be paid - into your bank account or by cheque
The form is a catch all, and asks about other expenses you may be claiming, eg, company car. If you don't get any of these, just click 'No' on each page of the form that doesn't apply.
Once your claim has been received and processed by HMRC, you'll be sent a letter telling you how much you're entitled to, and details on when the money will be paid. It could take up to five weeks to process your claim.
Reclaimed before? This time you can phone them
Usually, if you've submitted a reclaim, then your tax code will be adjusted in future years to take account of your costs, so you won't need to reclaim again.
However, if this doesn't happen, and if you've claimed before and had expenses of less than £1,000, you can do the reclaim over the phone (for bigger claims you'll need to use the form again). Call 0300 200 3300 - the phone line is open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 4pm on Saturday.
If, as part of its normal tax admin, HMRC sends you a P810 'Tax Review' form – to check your tax code is correct – you can also fill this in to claim tax relief. For expenses over £1,000, or if you changed jobs midway through a tax year, you'll need to fill out additional forms.
Anything else worth knowing?
You can't claim for the initial cost of buying the clothes.
There are other tax-deductible expenses you may be able to claim, such as the cost of professional fees, specialist tools or travel for your job. See more on the other allowances on the HMRC website.
For instance, nurses also get an annual £12 allowance for shoes, £6 for tights and tax relief on RCN subscriptions, while police officers may also be given a flat rate expense allowance of £140 per year.