From April 2014 all service personnel will get tax-free allowance towards cost of cleaning uniforms
At the moment all ranks have to keep clean at least some parts of their uniform at their own expense. But at the moment no tax relief is available on the cost and only officers get any allowance towards it. That puts lower ranks at a disadvantage compared with millions of other workers who can claim some tax relief on the cost of keeping clean the uniforms or specialist clothes they have to wear at work.
After I wrote about tax relief on work clothes last April a large number of service personnel made a claim. At the time they were not entitled to any help. But it triggered a review by the Ministry of Defence and HM Revenue and Customs. I have now been told that from April 2014 all service personnel will get a tax-free allowance towards the cost. How much it will be has not yet been decided.
Although service personnel have to wait, other workers can claim now if they have to wear 'distinctive' clothing at work. That can include anything in company colours or with a logo on it that you wouldn’t be seen dead in anywhere else. It could be a company T-shirt or a skirt and top with the company logo on. But a suit or plain skirt and blouse would not be eligible. People who need protective clothing can also make the claim.
The savings on your annual tax bill are not huge. If you have to pay to wash it and keep it clean and maintained you may be able to save between £12 and £28 a year off your tax But if you have worn the outfit for some time you can claim it back to 2009/10.
Five year's relief could mean a refund from HMRC for a least £60 if you’re a basic rate taxpayer. Some in particular jobs or trades will get more than twice as much. And you can double all those amounts if you pay higher rate tax.
The tax relief is given at a flat rate whatever you actually spend on washing or cleaning the clothes. There is a minimum of £60 a year - worth £12 to a basic rate taxpayer. But some trades have a higher flatrate amount. For example, nurses can claim £100 (worth £20), plumbers £120 (worth £24), garage workers £80 (worth £16) and police officers £140 (worth £28). The relief is worth twice as much to higher rate taxpayers. A list of all the standard amounts is here hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/eimanual/eim32712.htm.
Claiming: Write to the tax office address on your Coding Notice or payslip or direct to HMRC, PAYE, PO Box 1970, LIVERPOOL L75 1WX. Send your name, address, NI number, full details of your employer back to 2009/10, your job title, the clothes you have to wear and why you can’t wear them outside work. You can ask for past year's relief to be paid by cheque.
More at www.hmrc.gov.uk/incometax/relief-tools.htm
* Read Paul Lewis's money articles every month in Saga Magazine.