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Uniform Tax Refund: Top 5 Things You Need To Know Before Making A Claim

Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: Sep 09, 2022
10 minutes read
  • Uniform tax refund criteria
  • Find out how much you can claim
  • Other useful information

Are you cleaning and maintaining your uniform for work? It’s important to check whether you qualify for a tax refund and see how much you can claim. While the uniform tax refund gives a little bit back for every tax year, you can also claim for previous years, giving you a little more than you may have originally thought.

We break down the uniform tax refund and describe all you need to know before you make a claim. This includes making sure your uniform qualifies in the eyes of HMRC, how long it may take and how much you’re entitled to.

A female cleaner smiles at the camera with her arms folded while her colleagues work in the background

1. What Constitutes as a Uniform?

First of all, we need to understand the definition of a uniform, as meeting this definition ensures you’re eligible for a uniform tax refund. HMRC identifies uniform as a set of clothing of a specialised nature that is recognisable as a uniform and is intended to identify its wearer as having a particular occupation. The most obvious and clear example of this is emergency service staff. You can easily identify them because of what they’re wearing.

Staff clothing is what you’re required to wear to carry out your duties within working hours and wholly for business purposes. Basically, anyone on the street would recognise it as a uniform and the wearer as having a particular occupation.

Any clothing branded with a company name or logo would count as a uniform for the purposes of a uniform tax refund. This also includes some protective clothing. As long as the item of clothing has a permanent brand on it, i.e., it can’t be removed easily and would look like normal clothing, it will qualify as a uniform.

Uniform isn’t considered a required style or colour dress code, such as “all black” or “smart/casual”. Anything not directly part of a uniform, like underwear, won’t count for a uniform tax refund. Ordinary clothing with a detachable name badge also doesn’t qualify, but a hi-vis jacket would as it’s a protective piece of clothing required for your job.

To learn more about how to claim uniform tax, see our guide.

2. What is the Criteria for Making a Claim?

Now that we know what a uniform is, what hoops do we need to jump through in order to get a uniform tax relief?

You can claim for uniform upkeep. As long as:

  • You’ve paid income tax for the year(s) in which you’re claiming

  • The employer requires this clothing to be worn for work

  • The employer doesn’t pay you for uniform upkeep or provide the means of doing this

  • The clothing meets the HMRC definition of a uniform or protective clothing

You’re also able to backdate your uniform tax refund, but only for the last four years. If you’re entitled, it’s best to do this before the new tax year so you don’t miss out on a refund.

Uniform Tax Refund - Examples That Qualify

A Food and Beverage assistant wearing a black shirt, trousers and an apron with the company logo can claim for the apron. If the shirt also features a permanent logo, this also qualifies.

Engineers need to wear overalls, which can be claimed on as they’re considered protective and are needed to perform their duties.

Roadside workers can claim. While they may not have a branded uniform, a hi-vis jacket would count as protective clothing.

3. It Doesn’t Cover the Upfront Cost

You’ll only qualify for the uniform tax refund if you pay for the clothing yourself, which includes the cleaning, repairing and replacement. If you wash your uniform, you could be owed tax relief. However, if your employer cleans and repairs them, you can’t claim the uniform tax. This also includes if your employer provides means to clean your clothing, as you won’t be responsible for the cost, and even if you don’t then use these facilities.

The uniform tax refund also doesn’t apply to the initial purchase cost. It’s only for continuous maintenance.

4. How Much Will I Get?

There is a standard annual flat rate of £60, which you can claim a uniform tax refund on. Before you start seeing pounds in your eyes though, that’s not the money you’ll receive. You’re entitled to a percentage of this amount based on the amount of tax you pay. A basic rate taxpayer can expect to receive £12 a year, while a higher rate taxpayer would receive £24.

This £60 is only for industries of occupations not itemised by HMRC. There are higher flat rates for other jobs because they require specialist uniforms and protective clothing, such as ambulance staff and those working in nursing homes. The highest flat rate for emergency services is £185, but joiners, carpenters and engineers are able to claim deductions much higher than the standard £60 claim for a uniform tax refund. The interactive graph below details different flat rates and how much you could receive based on your tax band.

Ambulance crew can claim a uniform tax refund on £185, while firefighters can only claim on £80. Mechanics have a rate of £120, but dental nurses are slightly higher on £125. Pilots and co-pilots can claim on a £1,022 flat rate, which can be as much as £408.80 for a high rate taxpayer. A full list of itemised occupations can be found on the government website.

Basic rate taxpayers will get a 20% uniform tax refund, while higher rate taxpayers receive 40% of the total £60 (or higher amount as your job dictates). You could receive £12 a year or £37 for a specialist job as a basic rate taxpayer.

The uniform tax refund works by reducing the amount of tax you pay, which then increases your disposable income.

5. How Long Will It Take?

The process can take up to 12 weeks, so it’s important to not leave your uniform tax refund until the last minute before the new tax year. Because it’s a flat rate expense, there’s no need to provide proof of any bills or costs incurred for uniform maintenance.

Your tax code will be updated with the uniform allowance, and it’s important to check that your tax code doesn’t already have the uniform tax refund included before you make your claim. You’ll just be wasting your time otherwise.

From the point that your uniform tax refund has gone through, it will be automatically applied to subsequent years, so you don’t need to keep claiming every new tax year.

If you're still left with any questions, see our ultimate guide to uniform tax rebates to find out how long does a uniform tax rebate take.

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