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Is the teacher tax rebate genuine?

We've updated this guide on 15th February 2021

Both primary and secondary school teachers often end up spending their own money on things they need to do their job. This can be for things like classroom equipment and books.

As a result, there is a lot of debate about the teacher tax rebate. Specifically, it’s around whether it’s something that teachers can actually claim tax relief on. If you’re confused about teacher tax, we’ve put together a handy guide. It will help you understand exactly what the teacher tax rebate is, and how you can apply if needed.

What is the teacher tax rebate?

If you’re a teacher, it’s likely that you’ll be entitled to claim tax relief on a variety of expenses that you might have incurred for work purposes. This can include any of the following:

  • Cost of fees for your chosen professional body, such as the National Education Union
  • Specialist clothing (such as replacement PE kit)
  • Classroom books and journals
  • Although rarely approved, equipment such as laptops and computers.
  • Qualifying travel expenses

If you claim a teacher tax rebate, HMRC will usually make an adjustment to your tax code. As a result you’ll pay less tax in the long run, as long as you continue to incur the cost of the related job expense.

Who can claim tax relief?

In short, employed teachers. Even if you work through an agency, you may be able to claim this tax relief. This is most likely if they pay for certain things you need to help with teaching. In most cases, if you pay for any job-related expenses but are not reimbursed by your school or employer, then you can claim for tax relief. If you’re only partially reimbursed, you might be able to claim the difference.

To qualify for a teacher tax rebate from HMRC, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You’re a UK taxpayer and earn over the personal allowance
  • You incur the cost of the the job expense
  • You’re not reimbursed by your employer 

Why do people think that the teacher tax rebate isn’t genuine?

The rules on what employment expenses can be claimed are very strict. This means that many teachers might not get the tax relief they expected to receive. HMRC argue that any employment expense must be incurred ‘wholly, exclusively and necessarily’ in the performance of your duties as a teacher.

Here’s an example. If your school requires you to supply your own classroom text books, tax relief might be given to cover the cost. However, if you buy a book on teaching methods, it would not count as an expense in the eyes of HMRC. They would see the methodology book as a tool to improve your own teaching knowledge, rather than one that is necessary for performing your job.

More guidance on this can be found on HMRC’s website here.

How do I claim tax relief? 

If you think you’re eligible for a teacher tax rebate then you complete and submit a P87 form online. You also must claim within 4 years of the end of the tax year that you spent the money. If your expenses exceed £2,500 in some of the tax years you are claiming for, then you must claim them as part of a Self Assessment tax return instead.

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