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Tools & Tips

The lowdown on professional subscriptions HMRC approves of

You heard it here first, folks; there’s a good chance you can get tax relief on union subscriptions, professional fees or annual subscriptions if they’re professional subscriptions HMRC is a fan of.

So if you pay for anything that starts with ‘British Society of…’, you may be in for a treat.

Keep reading to find out when you can claim tax relief on your professional subscription through HMRC, how to claim and even how to backdate your claim.

When can I claim tax relief on my professional subscription?

If you pay to be registered with a group, have a licence or a union subscription that’s necessary to your work, you can claim that money back through tax so long as:

  • It’s on HMRC’s super special list of annual subscription fees that are tax-deductible
  • Your employer isn’t paying or reimbursing those fees for you

It doesn’t matter whether you’re employed or self-employed, so long as the professional fees are necessary.

For example, if you’re a children’s dentist, then the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry is necessary for your profession. It earns a spot on the professional subscriptions HMRC list and is an example of professional fees approved by HMRC.

Whereas if you’re a professional clown and, therefore, a member of the Ministry of Silly Walks, we’re afraid it’s not completely necessary to your work and not on HMRC’s list.

(A shame for Monty Python fans everywhere.)

Which professional subscription bodies does HMRC approve of?

The best way to check whether any of your annual subscriptions are eligible for tax relief is to search the professional subscriptions HMRC list.

It starts with chartered accountants to advertising to agricultural and archaeological, of course, art. There are bankers and dentists and orthodontists and orthopaedic and paediatric and surgeon societies too. Teaching and educational associations take up decent space on the list (as they should).

The Sheep Veterinary Society and the British Sleep Society are some of the more specific subscriptions. Still, you’ll also find plenty of financial management, economics and law societies to choose from.

To say the list is long is a bit of an understatement, so use those handy ctrl and F keys on your keyboard to check for your specific membership or which memberships are HMRC’s favourites in your profession. 

How much can you claim in professional fees and subscriptions?

Every professional body on the list has a unique agreement with HMRC for the amount of tax relief their members can claim. 

Check on their website or email them to ask how much your annual subscriptions or union subscription tax relief is worth.

How far can you backdate your claim for professional subscriptions?

The good news here is if you’ve missed claiming this lesser-known type of tax relief, you can backdate your claim for up to four years.

All you’ll need is a record of your previous payments in the form of a receipt when you submit your claim.

(Which is hopefully hiding in the archives of your inbox somewhere.)

You can also backdate your claims for tool tax if you use tools in your line of work and other forms of mechanics tax if you’re…  well if you’re a mechanic. 

How to claim back the cost of my professional subscription from HMRC

If you’re a PAYE (Pay As You Earn) employee, you should be able to make your tax relief claim online via the ‘check if you can claim’ system. Once you’ve answered the brief questionnaire, in most cases, HMRC will direct you to where you can claim online.

If you cannot claim online, the government website should direct you to your next steps on claiming via another route. 

After you’ve claimed it once, it should change your PAYE tax code, so the tax relief becomes part of your monthly salary in the future.

Where do I enter professional subscriptions on a tax return if I’m self-employed?

You can claim your professional fees for tax relief as part of your self-assessment tax return by entering your subscription amount, and the years you’re claiming in box 19 on the SA102 form.

With that, we consider our mischief and tax-deductible expenses managed. 

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