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Is a gym membership tax deductible for a business?

So, is a gym membership tax deductible for a business? In short, it depends. 

You can technically expense anything as long as you can prove that it’s a business expense. But most of the time, gym membership is deemed a personal expense by HMRC. 

Take a look here for details of what HMRC allows as a deductible expense if you’re self-employed.

When could I deduct gym membership?

Here are some examples of occupations where the expense might be deemed reasonable:

  • Actor
  • Model
  • Personal Trainer
  • Ballet dancer
  • Fitness instructor
  • Athlete

Is a gym membership tax deductible if it’s not related to my business?

With all expenses, you should apply common sense when you claim. 

Generally, HMRC sees gym membership as a subscription payment. Take a look at some more examples of subscriptions in the eyes of HMRC:

  • Trade or professional journals
  • Trade body or professional organisation membership if related to your business
  • Political party membership
  • Gym membership fees
  • Donations to charity 

HMRC explicitly lists political party membership, gym membership and charity donations as non-allowable expenses. That said, if you’re able to provide evidence that clearly justifies it as a business expense (i.e. if you’re in one of the above occupations), it can be claimed. 

Don’t forget to keep all of your receipts and record of your work. You’ll need as much evidence as possible to be able to claim. And HMRC can request to see your receipts any time up to seven years after you’ve incurred the expense!  

What about gym membership for my mental health?

In general, you’re not able to claim your gym membership costs for mental health reasons. 

If it’s been specifically instructed by a doctor – which is unlikely as hospitals run their own medically prescribed gym classes – you’ll need to provide all records and as much evidence as you can to back up the claim. Even then, you should discuss it with your accountant or with HMRC directly.

What do our accountants say?

We asked Paul, one of our TaxScouts accountants. He couldn’t see gym membership being accepted as a reasonable expense. 

“It’s usually a taxable benefit in kind,” he explained, “unless it was a business who built a gym for their staff members to use. It would be like claiming expenses to go to the pub because socialising is good for your mental health.”

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