How to claim a work uniform tax rebate

If you wear a uniform for work, then you could be entitled to some money back

air stewardesses in uniform
(Image credit: getty images)

Wearing a work uniform means you can claim a tax rebate to cover the cost of washing and cleaning it.   

While those working from home can claim the working from home tax relief, those that don’t work this way miss out. But there are other tax breaks available, including the work uniform tax rebate. 

“With the soaring cost-of-living affecting workers at every level, one way to claw back some expenditure is to claim a tax rebate for the uniform you wear for work, such as a branded work overall and safety boots,” says Alice Haine, personal finance analyst at investment platform Bestinvest.

Here’s what you need to know about who can claim the work uniform tax rebate and how much it’s worth.

Can I claim a uniform tax rebate? 

If you work for a company where you’re expected to wear a uniform, and it’s down to you to wash and repair it, you may be able to claim a tax rebate from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).   

You can claim this tax break regardless of your job, just providing you wear some kind of ‘recognised uniform’, like airline cabin crew or if you’re a nurse.

To qualify for this, you must buy, clean, repair and replace your uniform yourself, although you can’t claim for the initial cost of the clothing.  

However what you can do is make a claim towards looking after it, when it comes to cleaning, washing and repairing it.

In the event your employer covers all your work related expenses, or provides a laundry service for uniforms, then you can’t claim this tax rebate.

What counts as a work uniform? 

According to HMRC, a work uniform must be ‘specialised clothing that’s recognisable as identifying someone as having a particular occupation, for example nurse or police uniforms'.

However it can also apply to a company branded polo top or overalls with the company logo, depending on your job.  

If say you’re a hairdresser and expected to wear a specially designed top with the salon branding or T- shirt advertising the store or company you work for, then that can count too.  

And you can claim this tax rebate, even if you’re only expected to work your ‘work uniform’ for just one day a year.

How much can I claim? 

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to the amount you can claim.

“The amount of tax relief you can claim depends on your industry and occupation and the rate of tax you pay”, says Alice Haine.

The standard ‘flat rate’ uniform allowance is £60 a year with some jobs like nurses, the Police and airline cabin crew having higher limits.  

“A pilot or uniformed flight deck crew can claim tax relief of £1,022 a year, while someone working in the building industry can claim up to £140 depending on their line of work, while healthcare staff in the NHS or private hospitals and nursing homes can claim up to £185”, says Alice Haine.

HMRC publishes a full list of jobs and occupations along with the level of tax relief you can claim. If your job isn’t on the list, and you’re expected to wear a uniform to work, you can claim tax relief on the basic flat rate of £60 a year.

“However, it’s important to note that tax relief only reduces the amount of tax you pay in a given tax year – so the amount you receive won’t match the amount you claim.  If you claim £60 for the uniform you wear to work and you pay income tax of 20%, you will receive tax relief of £12”, says Alice Haine.

What can’t I claim for? 

You can’t claim tax relief on the cost of buying your uniform, and there’s no legal obligation for employers to pay for it either.

If you’re expected to wear Personal Protective Equipment, (PPE), as part of your job, this should be provided free of charge.   And if you need to buy it yourself, your employer should refund the full cost.

How to make your claim  

You can claim online or fill in form P87 if you prefer to apply by post.   

If you’re making a claim for ‘flat rate’ expenses, there’s no need to keep receipts to cover the cost of cleaning or repairs.

As well as claiming for the current tax year, which started on 6th April, you can backdate your claim for the previous four tax years going back to 2018/2019.    

This can mean a total tax rebate of £60, based on the flat rate, or more depending on your job.   However you must have paid income tax for any years you claim for. 

How will I get the money? 

Once HMRC gets your claim, it will adjust your tax code, which means you’ll pay less tax each month.   

If you’re claiming for previous years, HMRC may either give you the extra money as a tax refund, or by adjusting your tax code.

If you’re self-employed, and expected to wear a work uniform, you can’t claim in the same way.  In this instance you need to include details of any expenses related to cleaning or repairing your work clothing on your self assessment tax return.  And in this case you should keep any relevant receipts.

Sue Hayward

Sue Hayward is a personal finance and consumer journalist, broadcaster and author who regularly chats on TV and Radio on ways to get more power for your pound.  Sue’s written for a wide range of publications including the Guardian, i Paper, Good Housekeeping, Lovemoney and My Weekly. Cats, cheese and travel are Sue’s passions away from her desk!