Uniforms tax refund or tax allowance for HM Forces ?

The Ministry of Defence has announced that, from 2014, serving officers of HM Forces will get a tax free allowance to pay for the cost of cleaning their uniforms. This allowance will be made by increasing their individual PAYE tax code and, the higher the tax code, the less tax is paid.

Some employees who are required to wear ‘special’ clothing or uniforms in their jobs, are entitled to UK income tax relief for the costs of its upkeep. However, until now, this has never applied to armed forces personnel.

Whilst combat gear/military dress etc is laundered at the public expense – other standard issue wear, such as the ‘off duty’ clothing soldiers are required to wear to adhere to the on camp dress code, isn’t.

Tax refund or allowance in numbers

Serving officers of HM Forces generally receive an annual tax-free allowance which covers some of the costs they are obliged to incur in maintaining such clothing. However, this is not available to junior ranks.  For soldiers using the camp laundry facilities – at £1 a wash or £1 a tumble dry for example – costs can easily add up to £20 or more a month.

This is considerable, so the question of some form of relief via the UK income tax system for laundry expenses has been under debate for some time.  .

However not all employers will reimburse an employee’s expenses or provide free laundry facilities – so we thought it a good opportunity to recap the tax relief rules that apply to everyone else.

There is a flat rate system for the laundry costs of uniforms or protective clothing which is useful, as you don’t have to keep a record of all the individual amounts you spend (this does not stop an employee claiming relief for the actual cost if that is higher – although larger deductions won’t be allowed without adequate evidence of the expenditure incurred.)

For some occupations, the flat rate can be up to £200 a year (e.g. for refuse collectors) but, for most employees who are required to wear protective clothing or logo-bearing uniforms or workwear, a deduction of £60 is the ‘norm’ per year (this seems small but, remember, that typically the cleaning will be carried out as part of the employee’s ordinary domestic wash. Therefore the extra cost of cleaning work clothing should be small) and will save UK income taxpayers the ‘princely’ sum of  £12 per annum.

Despite being able to claim  tax refund retrospectively for a number of years, the rebate amounts aren’t huge but, ofcourse, ‘every little helps’! So, the amount of any income tax refund will depend on your circumstances – e.g. a food factory worker paying basic rate UK income tax would be due an income tax repayment of some £48 whereas a higher rate tax paying plumber could be due back over  £200, with ongoing annual tax savings varying between £12 and £80 – so, as any tax refund from HMRC has to be worthwhile, claiming back your tax refund has to be worth doing!

Don’t forget, you may also be entitled to a UK tax refund if:

• You arrive in or leave the UK during the tax year.

• You do not work throughout the complete tax year ie from April 6th to April 5th.

• You’ve been working on a casual basis for part or even all of the tax year.

• You’ve had more than one job tin a tax year.

• You retired and/or stopped working part way through a tax year.

• You are a student, either working in the holidays or part-time throughout a tax year.


Fill in one of our UK tax refund forms to check your status !