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Guidance for key workers – tax relief for uniforms and PPE

There have been many stories of shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for NHS workers and those in care homes. Many in this situation have had to buy their own PPE and have not been (or only partially) reimbursed by their employer. There is, however, the opportunity to claim some tax relief and we outline how you can do so yourself below.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) allows employees who don’t already complete Self-Assessment tax returns to make claims of up to £2,500 on employment-related expenses incurred in a tax year. This includes uniforms and protective clothing used in the line of duty. They can do this by using a form P87, although if non/partially reimbursed expenses for a tax year exceed this amount, the person will instead need to register to file a Self-Assessment tax return and make a claim through that.

These claim forms can either be filled in through a person’s Government Gateway account (which if you don’t have one, can be set-up by following the instructions on the link) or by completing the form on screen, then printing this off and sending it off to HMRC.

Before you start, you will need the following:

  • Your National Insurance number
  • Your employer’s PAYE reference number (this will be on your payslip and will be something like 123/A456)
  • Your employee number (what number you are in the company’s payroll – again it will be on your payslip)
  • The details of the expenses you are claiming for (if claiming for business travel, you’ll need details of your business mileage)
  • The details of any re-imbursements

Even if you don’t have all the expenses details, you can use the form to claim tax relief on expenses at a ‘flat rate’, which for NHS workers ranges from £185 per year for ambulance staff, to £80 per year for ancillary uniformed staff working for the NHS. You can check the flat rate applicable by clicking here.

Completing the form

The first two pages of the form are in relation to the basic details, i.e. what year you are making a claim for (you will need to do a different form for each tax year) and the details about you.

1. Flat rate or specific expenses

Once through those, the next page asks you if you want to claim flat rate expenses for working equipment and specialist clothing. If you are just making a flat rate claim, click ‘yes’ and it will bring up the expenses claimed box, in which you can enter the flat rate applicable (see above). If you have the specific expenses, click ‘no’ and carry on with the form where you will enter the expenses incurred in the ‘other expenses sections’ of the form.

2. Vehicle expenses

The next page is for vehicle expenses where you have used your vehicle for business trips. An important distinction here is to say that business travel does not include trips that would be commuting i.e. between your home and normal place of work. The form guides you through this, so if you are claiming, click ‘yes’ and it will open up another section of questions and boxes to enter what vehicle you used and the amount of business mileage as well as any reimbursements you received. If you didn’t use your vehicle for business trips, then click ‘no’ and ‘next’.

3. Professional subscriptions

This leads to the professional subscriptions, which is where you can enter any fees relevant to you being able to carry on your profession or any subscriptions to professional bodies (such as to the General Medical Council) that are relevant in the performance of your job. You can click to add more rows if you have more than one. If there are none, click ‘no’ and move on to the next section.

4. Hotel and meal expenses

The following section relates to hotel and meal expenses where you have been required to stay overnight somewhere and have had to pay for this or have had to pay for a meal on an overnight trip. An example of this might be that you were sent to work at another hospital and accommodation was required as you couldn’t commute home and had to buy your own evening meal. You will need to provide details of the date, where this was, and the amounts spent. You can add more rows if required. If none, click ‘no’ and move on.

5. Other expenses

The next section is other expenses. If you are not claiming the flat rate on uniform and protective equipment costs, this is where you will enter those details. Enter the expense, the amount paid, and any reimbursement received. You can add more lines but remember to keep the receipts and records related to this claim. Once completed, move on to the next section.

6. Total net allowable expenses

You will then move to a page that will give you the details of the total net allowable expenses that you are claiming for the year. Check the amount is right and then move on to how you wish to be paid. HMRC offer two options on the postal claim, to have a cheque made payable to you or to be paid to an authorised nominee. Click on your choice and fill in the details of the postal address to receive this.

7. Declaration and submission

The last page is the declaration page. If completing the form online, you will simply submit the form. If you’re completing it via the paper form, you will need to print your full name and the date you are completing the form, then go to the next page, click preview and then print the form. You can then sign that form and send it to Pay as You Earn and Self-Assessment, HM Revenue and Customs, BX9 1AS. We would recommend you keep a copy of the form and to keep your original receipts as HMRC do not need you to send these to them.

Reimbursement

At the end of this, HMRC will reimburse you the tax at your marginal rate of income tax on the expenses incurred, so if you are a basic rate taxpayer with £500 of personal expenses incurred, HMRC will reimburse you £100, being 20% of the costs incurred.

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