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Healthcare Workers Could Be Entitled to a Tax Refund

Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: Jun 12, 2023
6 minutes read
  • What an NHS uniform tax refund is
  • Uniform tax refund eligibility
  • How to claim uniform tax relief

NHS staff are amongst the hardest workers in the public sector. Fortunately, there are ways in which they can benefit from money back. One such way is the NHS uniform tax refund, which is a generous rebate compared to other professions and the standard flat rate. Whether you’re a member of Unison or any other trade union, you could be entitled to money back if you wash your uniform yourself.

This article will explain what the NHS uniform tax refund is, how it differs depending on profession and what makes you eligible. The amount you can claim for uniform tax depends on your tax bracket, as it’s a rebate based on how much tax you’ve paid in the existing and previous tax years. Read more to find out how much you could be entitled to.

Female nurse stands in front of a hospital with a clipboard

What Is the NHS Uniform Tax Refund?

For healthcare workers, such as physicians, dentists and midwives, you can claim tax back for washing your uniform. Because these uniforms are considered specialist clothing, you can claim back more for the hassle of laundering them. It’s different to the standard uniform tax refund as you can receive more for the trouble.

How Much Can You Get When You Claim a Uniform Tax Refund

Flat Rate Amounts

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The easiest way to claim your NHS uniform tax refund is to use the flat rate system. This gives you a set amount per year that you can claim tax relief on. Depending on what kind of taxpayer you are, you could be entitled to more. For example, a basic rate taxpayer will only receive 20% relief, whereas a high rate taxpayer will receive 40%.

The highest amounts for an NHS uniform tax refund are available for ambulance staff, whose flat rate is £185 a year. The lowest is for staff members like receptionists and grounds staff, who can claim on the £80 flat rate a year. The government website splits different staff members into five categories across three flat rates, but the majority of professions can claim the same rate. These are higher amounts than the standard flat rate, which is £60.

Working It Out

To work out how much your NHS uniform tax refund will be, take the total amount, such as £185, and divide it by 100, then times it by your tax band amount, e.g., 20%. This means that a basic rate taxpayer will receive a refund of £37 a year for washing their uniform. A higher rate taxpayer will receive 40%, which is £74. For ease, you can see the different tax band amounts in the graph below, along with the flat rate amount on the far right.

Eligibility to Claim Uniform Tax

Even if you have one of the listed professions, you’ll need to check that you are eligible to claim the NHS uniform tax refund. To be eligible, you must:

  • Have a specialist uniform according to the definition by HMRC

  • Clean and maintain your uniform yourself

  • Have paid tax for the year(s) in which you’re claiming

  • Not have laundering capabilities provided by your employer, or the costs covered by them


As the NHS uniform tax refund concerns specialist uniforms, that’s the first criteria ticked off. In the eyes of HMRC, a uniform is a set of clothing that identifies you as having a particular profession. To the layman on the street, it would be obvious what your occupation is.

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Cleaning Your Uniform

The second obstacle is that you are expected to clean this uniform yourself and have to spend your own money to do so. You can get money back for washing your uniform at home, which lessens the blow of all the manual labour involved. The NHS uniform tax refund is designed to help with these costs.

Income Tax

Thirdly, to claim a uniform tax refund, you need to have paid tax in the year you wish to claim. This is because you’re claiming back money on the tax that you’ve already paid. If you weren’t a taxpayer for a year you wish to claim, there won’t be an NHS uniform tax refund available to compensate you.

No Services Provided

Finally, you cannot claim if your employer provides you with the services to launder your uniform, even if you don’t actually use them. The whole point about the NHS uniform tax refund is that it aims to compensate you for the trouble of paying for washing. If the services are provided, the costs incurred to you would be lower anyway. To claim a uniform tax rebate on top of this would be unfair.

Backdating the NHS Uniform Tax Refund

As with any tax refund, you’re able to backdate it by up to four years. That’s not including the current financial tax year, which can effectively be your fifth year. When applying for a uniform tax refund for the current year, your tax code is usually changed and you’ll end up paying less tax. For a backdated NHS uniform tax refund, the amounts are usually paid as a lump sum.

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Time Frame

Although there is no time frame in which to claim uniform tax relief, missing out on a single backdated tax year can limit how much you could be entitled to. Making sure you claim before the new tax year in April can ensure you get the most out of your NHS uniform tax refund. Additionally, you can only backdate a claim for the years in which you qualify. If you didn’t pay tax for any of the last four years, you won’t be able to backdate your claim.

How long does a uniform tax rebate take?

Backdated Amounts

As an example, if a basic rate taxpayer is eligible and backdates their NHS uniform tax refund for four years, they can receive the full flat rate amount. Taking ambulance crew at their £185 flat rate, four years of £37 is equal to £148. The outstanding £37 will be received in the current tax year, totalling £185. While the yearly total may not sound appealing, receiving a full backdated amount as a lump sum is an easy win.

Claiming Actual Uniform Laundry Costs

Keep Receipts and Evidence

Doctor in Ward Isometric

If the thought of claiming an NHS uniform tax refund against a flat rate doesn’t sound good enough, you can work out the actual costs involved. The benefit of the flat rate is that you don’t need to provide any evidence. To receive an increased amount closer to your actual costs for laundering your uniform, you’ll need to keep receipts and evidence of costs throughout the year.

Post It to HMRC

Actual costs relating to your NHS uniform tax refund need to be sent to HMRC by post, which will need to be done via a P87 form. All expenses for the tax year you’re claiming for need to be included, and records of receipts sent over as well. Within ‘Flat rate expenses’, you will need to fill in the ‘Other expenses’ section to receive more than the flat rate allowance. As well as providing this evidence, any costs should be deducted from these totals if your employer reimburses you.

To make it even more confusing, the total claim amount for each tax year is limited to £2,500. Filling in the P87 can be time consuming and may not be as straightforward as you might hope. This is one of the reasons why so many people prefer to simply claim their NHS uniform tax refund using the flat rate system.

Using a Claims Management Company

A claims management company can help process your NHS uniform tax refund for you. They take the case off your hands and liaise with HMRC on your behalf. As they are experts in their field, they process claims like these on a daily basis, knowing how much you are entitled to.

There are many reasons to use a claims management company to process your NHS uniform tax refund, such as:

  • Not having the time to make the claim yourself (with a busy shift schedule that doesn’t allow much free time)

  • Not being able to understand the HMRC process

  • Peace of mind without any hassle

To start your uniform tax rebate journey, simply fill in your details using the button below and your claim will be processed for you.

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