Are you due a tax rebate? A complete guide to claiming tax back from HMRC

Every year thousands of workers in the UK miss out on potentially £100’s of tax refunds, simply because they either don’t know about the tax relief available to them or they don’t bother to submit a claim.

Below we outline exactly what tax relief may be available to your particular job, and how you can quickly and easily make a tax refund claim…

Types of tax refund

There are a lot of tax allowances and refund types available to UK workers, many of which people simply don’t know about. For instance, if you wear any kind of uniform for work and have to wash it yourself you can claim tax back on the laundry costs. Also, if you pay any subscription fees that are deemed necessary for your job e.g. union or professional organisations/bodies then you can claim tax back for those.

We’ve outlined some of the most common types of tax refund below…

Uniform tax rebates

If you are required to wear a uniform for work and it has the company logo on it, then you are entitled to a yearly tax rebate if  you wash and maintain the uniform yourself.

This yearly allowance is available to everyone from airline pilots and cabin crew to Tesco workers, McDonalds staff and anyone else who wears a uniform. As long as your uniform isn’t washed by your employer then you are entitled to a tax rebate. Below are some quick examples of how much of a refund you could be entitled to each year…

Airline Cabin Crew – £720

Airline Pilots – £1,022

Agriculture – £100

Ambulance Staff – £140

Fire Service – £80

Police Officers – £140

Prisons – £80

General sectors – £60

REMEMBER – you can claim tax back for the last four years, so if you have never claimed a rebate before you could be entitled to a big refund!

Mileage allowance relief

If you have to use your own vehicle for any work-related travel e.g. driving to visit clients, visiting different sites etc… then you could be entitled to claim a refund on your mileage.

HMRC’s approved rate for mileage relief is 45p per mile, so if you do not receive any reimbursement from your employer you can claim the total back from HMRC i.e. the amount of miles you drove for business during the tax year x 45p.

Mileage allowance tax relief is never just given automatically – in order to benefit from it you must actively claim for it.

Even if you do receive some reimbursement from your employer, if it is less than HMRC’s approved rate then you can still put in a claim for a refund. For example:

Lets say you travel 7,000 miles per year in your own car on business duties (e.g. visiting suppliers and client), and your employer pays you 30p per mile (15p less than HMRC’s Approved Rate). Over the past four years that adds up to:

Year 1 – 7,000 x (45p-30p) = £1,050

Year 2 – 7,000 x (45p-30p) = £1,050

Year 3 – 5000 x (45p-25p) = £1,050

Year 4 – 5000 x (45p-25p) = £1,050

Total Mileage Allowance Relief = £4,200

That’s a lot of money that is rightfully yours, but you can only get it if you make a claim for it.

Refunds on subscriptions and professional fees

If you are a member of a professional organisation or body and pay subscription or membership fees then you can make a claim for tax relief on those fees.

This tends to be an overlooked are for tax rebates, which means a lot of employees in the UK are currently paying more tax then they should do. Tax relief for subscription fees can also apply to self-employed workers, and can reduce your tax bill significantly.

In order to qualify for a tax rebate, the subscription or professional fees you pay must be necessary to your work and the organisation must be on HMRC’s approved list.

For example, if you are a medical professional then you may have to keep up a membership with the British Medical Association (BMA). As the BMA are on HMRC’s approved list, the yearly membership fees you have to pay would qualify as a tax deductible expense.

See HMRC's full list of approved professional organisations and learned societies

Note: You cannot claim for tax relief for any fees or subscriptions you pay to organisations that are not on the HMRC approved list, or for fees that are paid for by your employer.

Tool tax rebate

If you work in industries like the motor trade or engineering, then it’s likely that you have to sometimes pay for your own tools – as well as pay for the maintenance of certain tools.

HMRC has guidelines that say you may be eligible to claim tax relief if you have to pay for tools that are essential for you to carry out your job.

In order to qualify for a tool tax refund, you must:

  • Have paid for the tools yourself – and have receipts
  • Be able to demonstrate that the tools are necessary for you to do your job
  • Have earned enough to pay income tax
  • Have not been reimbursed in full for the tools by your employer

Tool tax rebates can be worth as much as £120 per year, so if you have not yet made a claim and are eligible to claim for the full four years then you could be entitled to a refund of £480.

Tax refunds by sector

Depending on your particular job or what industry you work in, there could be a lot of different tax refunds or allowances available to you that you are currently missing out on.

Below we have outlined some of the most popular tax rebate claims for common job sectors. This is in no way a complete list, so if your sector isn’t listed below you could still be entitled to make a tax refund claim.

Construction worker tax refund

It is estimated that as many as 1 in 3 construction workers in the UK are currently paying too much tax, with as much as £80 million per year going unclaimed from HMRC.

For those that work in the construction industry and pay tax via PAYE, it is likely that you have incurred expenses such as travel costs, tool costs, meals and accommodation while working away. All of these can be the subject of a tax refund which can help you get back money that is rightfully yours. Some of the most common tax rebates for construction workers include…

Travel costs – using either your own vehicle or public transport to get to different building sites

Tools – if you pay for a tool that you use for work, then you could include the cost in a tax claim

Uniform – claim for washing your own company uniform or protective clothing

Accommodation and subsistence – claim back tax if you lodge away from home for work

Police tax refunds

Every employee of the police force could be entitled to a tax rebate, from community support workers and back office staff to police officers, chief inspectors and more.

The standard yearly allowance for police uniform cleaning is £140 – meaning you could be in line for a rebate of over £500 if you haven’t claimed it for the past four years.

Police officers and staff can also make tax refund claims for:

Police Federation Subscriptions – HMRC have an agreement with the Police Federation that tax relief is available for 100% of the cost. This applies to all police unless you are an Officer of the Metropolitan Police, as they already have an agreement with HMRC whereby subscriptions are taken from source and no tax is deducted.

Using your own vehicle – If you use your own vehicle for any work-based travel outside your normal commute to and from work then you could be eligible for up to 45p per mile

Police dog handlers – If your police dog lives at home with you and you use your own vehicle to transport your dog to work and to the nearest suitable place to exercise your dog then you may be eligible claim mileage

Making a tax rebate claim is a very simple and straight forward process, and once you have made your claim HMRC will adjust your tax code to include the expenses. The tax deductions will then carry on for all future years’ tax codes – helping to save a considerable amount of money for long serving Police Officers.

Teacher’s tax rebates

Thousands of teacher’s across the UK miss out on money that is rightfully their’s every year, simply because they do not know they can claim tax relief.

As an educational professional they are entitled to tax relief on certain work expenses every year, such as professional subscription fees (NUT, NASUWT etc…), uniform tax rebates, sportswear, equipment and mileage if they do any travelling in their own vehicle for school purposes – e.g. going on a school trip, visiting another site or school, going on a course etc…

Teacher’s may also be able to claim tax back if they work from home (i.e. marking and planning).

Add all that up for the past four years and you could be entitled to a significant rebate!

Healthcare workers tax rebate

Anyone who works for the NHS is eligible to make a claim for tax relief for uniform costs, NMC subscriptions, mileage for use of your own vehicle, HCPC subscriptions and more.

The types of healthcare workers who could be eligible to make a tax rebate claim include:

  • Ambulance staff
  • Chiropodists
  • Dental nurses
  • Occupational, speech, physiotherapists and other therapists
  • Phlebotomists
  • Radiographers
  • Nurses
  • Midwives
  • Hospital porters
  • Hospital domestics
  • Hospital catering staff
  • Pharmacists and pharmacy assistants
  • Receptionists
  • Security guards

NHS Widening Access Training scheme

If you’ve received payments from your NHS employer whilst attending a Widening Access Training (WAT) course, you might be entitled to a refund of the Income Tax and National Insurance contributions you paid.

Payments made by employers to workers getting full-time instruction can be exempted from Income Tax and National Insurance contributions if certain conditions are met.

Cabin crew tax refunds

Because there is such a heavy requirement for airline cabin crew to always look professional, there are schemes available to help them claim back tax on uniform expenses.

The Unite union, for instance, has agreed an allowance for cabin crew working for BA, Virgin, Flybe, Monarch, Easyjet, Thomas Cook and Thomson to automatically receive a tax allowance of £720 per year in their tax code.

The £720 per year allowance includes:

  • Laundering of uniform
  • Shoes and tights
  • Plonky Kit
  • Torch,
  • Travel iron,
  • Calculator,
  • Suitcase and small on-board bag to carry equipment
  • Sunglasses, sun cream and Cosmetics
  • Duplicate passport
  • Watch and Timer
  • Computer, phone and/or phone contract

If you do not work for these airlines then you are still entitled to a tax rebate for any expenses you incur for your uniform, as well as any mileage and other costs you had to pay for your job (e.g. vaccinations, Visa’s etc…)

Offshore workers tax refunds

People who work on offshore oil rigs can claim a tax rebate for travel expenses to what have been deemed by HMRC as ‘temporary workplaces’, i.e. less than 24 months. Such travel expenses can be incurred during your journey to the oil rig – e.g. driving or taking public transport to the heliport or airport.

Offshore workers can also claim tax relied for any hotel bills they may have to pay as well as other expenses like:

  • laundry costs for specific work clothing and uniforms
  • maintenance and replacement of any essential tools
  • subscription fees you pay to professional bodies

Double taxation is also a big issue for offshore workers, which means you are paying tax in two different countries on the same income. If you are a UK resident but are working offshore in a different country, then you could end up paying more than one set of taxes to countries that have different tax laws and regulations.

To try and prevent this from happening, HMRC has created ‘double taxation agreements’ with other countries in order to determine which country has the right to claim tax on the offshore workers income. In some cases there is also special tax relief available to cover the extra tax you pay. There are lots of different rules depending on what particular agreement is in place, so if you think you are being affected by double taxation then you should look into making a claim as soon as possible.

The average tax refund for offshore oil rig workers is currently between £600 – £700 per year, which means a four-year claim could be as high as £2,800!

HGV tax rebate

There is a wide range of different tax relief options open to HGV drivers, including:

  • LGV/HGV licence costs
  • Medical examinations required to do your job
  • Passport photographs needed for your licence
  • Digital Tachograph Drivers’ Card costs
  • Certificate of professional competence
  • Laundering and maintaining your work uniform
  • Protective clothing e.g. steel top capped boots, high-vis vest etc…
  • Tools – if you find pay for tools or equipment to maintain your work vehicle e.g. spanners and strap forks you could claim a tool tax rebate
  • Midday Meal Allowance – If you have to work away from home or have been on the road longer than 8 hours on the road and you can claim tax relief if you have not been reimbursed.
  • If you have to spend nights away from home in the UK or abroad, you may be eligible to claim overnight allowance.

HGV drivers may also be able to claim back overnight parking costs if they pay for them themselves.

Security workers tax refunds

For those that work in security, tax relief could be available for a variety of work-related expenses you have incurred, such as:

  • Travel costs
  • Uniform and laundry costs
  • SIA and other license costs and fees

How to make a tax refund claim

There are basically two ways to submit a claim for a tax rebate – either do it yourself by contacting HMRC or enlist the help of a third party company to do it for you.

The benefits of doing it yourself are that you will receive 100% of the rebate. However, you may find that it is too time-consuming to go through the process of claiming and disputing with HMRC – and the fees for a third party could be more than reasonable.

To make a claim you will need to provide as much documentation of your expenses as possible, as well as proof that your expenses were required for your job. If you think you have a good handle on all the relevant documentation that you will need and are confident you can progress the claim yourself then we would recommend you contact HMRC and submit your claim directly.

If you feel you may need a bit of help with your claim, and knowing exactly what you may be eligible to claim for, then using a third party company to guide you through the process is recommended as their experts will help you get as much tax back as possible – which will probably far outweigh their fees (which you only pay when you get your refund).

To make a claim with HMRC, follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/claim-tax-refund/overview

Claim a tax refund with YourTaxRefund: http://yourtaxrefund.co.uk/