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Tools & Tips

What you need to know about HMRC uniform tax in the U.K.

There are two constants in life — death and taxes. While death is irreversible, taxes have some wiggle room. For example, if you’ve been washing your work uniform at home, you can take advantage of a “wiggle room” called HMRC uniform laundry allowance and get a tax refund.

Sounds good? Let’s show you how exactly this works so you can turn the time spent on washing your workwear into billable hours.

What is the uniform tax return?

The uniform tax return is a tax relief you can claim if you’re responsible for washing, repairing, and replacing your work uniform without any reimbursement from your employer. The government will refund the tax you would have otherwise paid on these expenses.

What’s more? You can claim the whole year’s relief even if you’ve worn the uniform only once within the tax year.

Who can claim it?

Hate to break it to you, but those fuzzy pyjamas you love to wear when you work from home won't qualify for HMRC uniform tax relief. You only qualify HMRC tax rebates if:

  1. You wear a mandatory and recognisable work uniform. Mandatory means you can’t do your job effectively without the workwear, and recognisable means if someone on the street saw you in this clothing, they will quickly identify it as a uniform. Common examples include branded t-shirts or a flight crew’s clothing. 
  2. You haven't received any reimbursement for work clothing maintenance costs from your employer.
  3. You've paid income tax in the year you're claiming for. Uniform tax relief isn't a freebie — you can only claim what you've paid out.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes. HMRC is pretty clear on who and what doesn't cut it for a uniform laundry tax rebate. Let's highlight three exceptions.

Personal protective equipment (P.P.E.)

You cannot claim tax relief for Personal Protective Equipment like face masks, face shields, and gloves. You're probably rolling your eyes and saying, “But I need them for my job!". And that’s true, but the law requires your employer to provide P.P.E. for free or reimburse you for the cost of purchasing it yourself.

Solopreneurs

Self-employed people are not eligible for uniform tax rebates because these refunds only apply to people who are paid through the P.A.Y.E. system. However, as a solopreneur, you can still claim uniform and laundry allowances when filling in your self-assessment tax return form.

Regular clothing

Sometimes, your employer might ask you to wear a specific outfit to work (like a suit) or to dress in matching company colours. Wearing these outfits may boost your company’s corporate image. But, you wouldn’t get any uniform tax refunds for them. So, you might have to find another way to get compensated for any expenses incurred.

Now that we’ve got all the criteria and exceptions out of the way, let's talk about how much HMRC uniform tax rebate you can claim in the 22/23 tax year. 

How much can you get?

The standard flat rate uniform allowance is £60. But you might be entitled to a higher amount depending on your job and industry. For example, if you’re a blacksmith, you can claim uniform tax relief for up to £140 in a particular tax year. Pilots and uniformed flight deck crew can get rebates for as much as £1,022.

Check out HMRC's website to know the deductions your industry qualifies for.

The exact amount you receive at the end of the day depends on your tax rate. Basic-rate taxpayers get 20% of their industry’s qualified deductions as a rebate, while higher-rate taxpayers get 40%. For example, if the uniform allowance is £140, the annual refund amounts to £28 for basic-rate taxpayers and £56 for higher-rate taxpayers. 

How do you make an HMRC uniform tax claim? 

Taxes are complex, and most people have a hard time understanding how they work. But that’s hardly the case here. The application process for HMRC uniform allowance is pretty straightforward, and you can handle it on your own (trust us).

For your first claim (and subsequent ones of more than £1,000), you need to complete Form P87. In this form, you’ll provide information like:

  1. The employment details for which the expenses claim relates
  2. Preferred payment method (direct bank transfer or cheque)
  3. The name and address of your employer
  4. Your occupation, job title and industry
  5. Your details, including your national insurance number and pay-as-you-earn (P.A.Y.E) reference
  6. Whether you’re claiming flat-rate expenses or want a rebate for your exact work clothing expenses; in the latter case, you need to submit receipts of your expenses for the specific tax year(s). Hint: Use Pleo's receipt scanner to store digital copies of your proofs of transactions so that you can find them easily. 

After filling out the form, submit it online or mail a physical copy to Pay As You Earn, H.M. Revenue & Customs, BX9 1AS.

Pro tip: Write 'Repayment Claim' on your envelope so it doesn't get lost in the mix.  

How long does it take to receive your claim?

It takes about 12 weeks for HMRC to process your tax refund. Once it’s all set, they’ll send a letter stating how much rebate you’re getting and when you’ll receive the money. 

Can you get tax refunds for past uniform expenses?

“I’ve been covering maintenance costs for my work uniform, but I didn’t know about the uniform tax allowance. What can I do?” Not to worry — you can claim tax relief for up to four years of past uniform expenses plus clothing allowances for the current tax year. Here’s what we mean:

If you’re a high-rate taxpayer entitled to the standard flat rate uniform allowance, you can get uniform tax rebates for 2022/23, 2021/22, 2020/21, 2019/20 and 2018/19 tax years. At the rate of £24 per year, you will receive £120. Not bad at all.

If you’re applying for multiple uniform tax refunds, you need to submit separate forms for each year you’re claiming for.

Track your work laundry expenses seamlessly

One thing that can make HMRC tax claim process a breeze is tracking your uniform maintenance costs meticulously. You can do this manually, but relying on a trusted solution like Pleo makes the process much more efficient. 

You can use Pleo to manage all invoices and receipts for your uniform expenses, like weekly laundry costs or new workwear purchases. This way, when it’s time to file a claim, you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips.

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