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How much can I claim for laundry expenses (self-employed)?

If you’re wondering, “How much can I claim for laundry expenses (self-employed)?”, the answer is that it depends. In certain industries, you can claim a Flat Rate Expense for the cost of your uniform, and for having to wash it. But this is more closely associated with the employed workforce. 

Which industries claim laundry expenses?

Commonly, you claim a tax relief if you have to wear a specific uniform or specialised clothing that your employer doesn’t provide for you. You must be obliged to wear this uniform to work to be able to claim. 

If you’re self-employed, a similar logic applies, although you claim this back when you pay your tax return.

Here are some examples of industries where it’s a common claim:

  • Construction workers
  • Healthcare workers
  • Maintenance workers

But what about laundry specifically?

Back in 2018, a First Tier Tribunal case heard of three individuals working in the sewage and maintenance industries. Those in the sewage industry reported having to go in and out of sewers up to 13 times in a day. The worker in outdoor maintenance reported having to wear protective clothing for being at risk from needles, rodents and animal faeces. 

Each argued that they had to wash their uniforms/work clothes regularly to be able to do their jobs and that they should be able to claim this back. 

The tribunal deemed it reasonable – and that it passed the wholly, exclusively and necessarily test. But they also ruled that evidence was always needed to demonstrate this expense. 

What is the wholly, exclusively and necessarily test?

When it comes to calculating expenses, you must make sure that your expense passes these three criteria:

  1. Wholly – your expenses but be wholly for your business
  2. Exclusively – your expense is an exclusive result of your business
  3. Necessarily –  it must be necessary to the running of your business

How much can I claim for laundry expenses (self-employed?)

If your laundry expenses pass the wholly, exclusively and necessarily test, you can claim self-employed expenses. You do this when you do your Self Assessment tax return. 

  • In the 2020/21 tax year, the flat rate expense for uniform is £60
    • If you earn up to £50,000, you can claim 20% back
    • If you earn over £50,000, you can claim 60% back
  • Some occupations (e.g. nurses and ambulance staff) are able to claim more
  • Nurses and midwives can claim shoes, socks and tights
  • Ambulance staff can claim specialist uniform

If your job doesn’t require you to wear a uniform or specific clothing, you unfortunately won’t be able to claim your laundry expenses on your tax return.

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