Nurses, hairdressers, construction workers and people working in retail and food sectors may be able to claim rebates, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has confirmed.

Staff in these types of roles sometimes have to pay for work-related expenses such as car mileage, replacing or repairing small tools, or maintaining branded uniforms, it explained.

If they are paid through PAYE, they may be able to get some of that money back and, if they move quickly, may even see the money before Christmas.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, said: “We know what a difference tax relief can make to hard-working customers, especially at this time of year. HMRC is keen to make sure customers get all the relief they’re entitled to, by using the online service.”

Rather than using agencies which will charge for carrying out the check, employees are urged to do it themselves at where HMRC explains that they can claim tax relief if:

  • they use their own money for things that they must buy for their job

  • they only use these things for their work.

“If you spent £60 and pay tax at a rate of 20% in that year,” HMRC points out, “the tax relief you can claim is £12.”

It anticipates that the majority of claims will be for repairing or replacing tools and branded uniforms, overnight expenses, professional subscriptions and business mileage (but not commuting).

Claims must be made within four years of the end of the relevant tax year.

Comment by Managing Director of Croner TaxWise, Ben Chaplin

This news should be music to the ears of staff who regularly have to pay out of their own pocket for expenses that are essential to their work.

Although employers are under no requirement to assist staff in applying for these rebates, it would certainly be helpful if payroll and senior management had a working understanding of the procedure and could advise staff wherever possible.

Employers should also take note of any staff who pay for expenses, such as uniforms or tools, especially where these individuals earn close to the National Minimum Wage (NMW).

In these situations, they will need to make sure the cost of any expenses does not take wages below the NMW threshold, as this could result in public naming and shaming and financial penalties at the hands of HMRC.

Last reviewed 6 December 2018