Flat rate expenses

The cost of getting to work is not tax deductible, but other work-related costs can be claimed, even by employees. These include expenses relating to the upkeep of tools, cleaning of uniforms and providing special or protective clothing.

Where the worker can provide evidence of the expense in the form of receipts he can make a claim in writing to HMRC for costs incurred in the four preceding tax years. The period for submitting such claims was reduced to four years from the end of the tax year, with effect from 6 April 2010. So expenses incurred in 2009/10 must be claimed by 5 April 2014.

To avoid the hassle of reviewing millions of such claims each year HMRC has agreed a range of flat rate allowances for various jobs and trade sectors. This list includes the Police and Fire services. However, until now there were no flat rate allowances for members of the armed forces.

New flat rate allowances to cover the laundering of uniforms for members of the armed forces have now been agreed as:

  • Royal Navy £80;
  • Army £100;
  • Royal Marines £100; and
  • Royal Air Force £100.

The allowance is not reduced if the individual served in the armed forces for only part of the tax year, but currently they only apply to members below the rank of officer. Negotiations are continuing concerning laundry expenses for officers.

These new allowances will be back-dated to 6 April 2008, and the total tax refund due will be included in the member’s PAYE code for 2013/14 as an earlier year adjustment. If you have clients who served in the armed forces since 6 April 2008 you may need to submit a claim on their behalf, as the allowance is unlikely to be given automatically to former members.

As with all flat rate allowances, once it has been claimed the allowance should remain within the worker’s PAYE coding for future tax years.

“This information is taken from Mark Lee’s weekly practical tax newsletter, published by the Tax Advice Network, for which you can subscribe at www.TaxAdviceNetwork.co.uk”

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