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What are some teacher tax deductions?

We've updated this guide on 4th October 2021

So, what even are teacher tax deductions? As a teacher, whether it be in a primary, secondary or sixth form college, it’s likely that you’ll sometimes end up spending your own money on things you need to help you teach. But did you know that if you’re a taxpaying teacher that works in the UK, you might be entitled to tax deductions

Although there’s a lot of confusion surrounding teacher tax deductions, it’s worthwhile looking into whether you’re eligible or not. You could end up receiving a tax refund for things such as professional fees and teaching equipment. Tax deductions that you can claim from HMRC may vary. So read on to find out more about them and what qualifies as an expense.

How does a teacher tax rebate work?

As an employed teacher you might be entitled to claim for tax relief. This is the case if you pay for certain things you need to help you do your job. If you pay for any expenses related to your teaching, but are not reimbursed by your employer or school, then you can claim a tax relief from HMRC. If your claim is successful, HMRC usually makes an adjustment to your tax code. This means that you pay less tax as a result. 

To qualify for a teacher tax rebate from HMRC, you must:

  • Be a UK taxpayer
  • Not earn over the Personal Allowance
  • Claim within 4 years of the end of the tax year that you spent the money
  • Have expenses less than £2,500, otherwise you claim them as part of a Self Assessment tax return instead

What expenses can I claim back as teacher tax deductions?

HMRC is very strict on what constitutes an employment expense. They argue that it must be incurred ‘wholly, exclusively and necessarily’ in the performance of your duties as a teacher. Here’s a quick overview of some of the things you can potentially claim for a tax deduction:

Professional Fees

Teachers can claim tax back on fees paid to professional unions and bodies, such as the National Union of Teachers and NASUWT.

HMRC has an approved list of which organisations are eligible on their website. The amount of tax relief that you can claim is totally dependent upon the agreement made between the two.

Other costs, such as subscriptions to magazines or fees paid to a general teaching council, might also be eligible for a teacher tax deduction. As long as you can prove that the cost incurred was not reimbursed by your employer and that it was necessary to your job, HMRC should consider your claim.

Books and specialist clothing

Books and journals that are purchased to use in your lessons or for the preparation of your lessons can also be claimed back as a tax deduction. HMRC will only disregard the cost if you bought the book for your own personal development and not for use in the classroom. Just be sure that you keep your receipts for proof of purchase!

Claiming on specialist clothing, such as a pair of football boots for a PE lesson, is a bit trickier. HMRC do not consider initial purchases of specialist clothing as an expense. Only the cost of cleaning, repairing or replacing the piece of clothing is deemed suitable for claiming tax deductions.

Equipment

HMRC are also very strict when it comes to viewing equipment, such as computers or lab coats, as an expense. Usually, your school or employer will have already provided or reimbursed the cost of these purchases to you. 

If you’ve paid for it yourself, then you have a chance at claiming equipment costs back. You have to demonstrate that the purchase was made not through personal choice. Instead, it was by ‘contractual obligation’ in the performance of your duties as a teacher.

Travel

Travel is also a very disputed claim that many face when claiming expenses. As the teacher, the law states that travel expenses are only allowable for tax deductions if:

  1. You have to travel in the performance of the duties of your employment, and that the location travelled to is not your permanent place of employment.
  1. It is a journey which you make to or from a place you have to attend in the performance of your duties. This usually includes trips from your normal work location to visit another place.

It’s possible that you might do some travelling that qualifies as one of the above. But HMRC say that most teachers are unlikely to do any travelling that they will deem as a necessary expense. However, they do accept that anyone who teaches at a number of different schools, such as a specialist music teacher, may still qualify.

How do I apply?

If you think you’re eligible and want to benefit from some of the tax deductions offered to teachers, then you have to complete and submit a  P87 form online.

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