How to get allowances and reliefs - employees or directors

If you're an employee or a director, there are a number of 'tax deductible' expenses you might be able to get. These include the cost of professional fees or subscriptions, business travel and subsistence, tools and specialist clothing. You can go back several years to get tax relief for expenses.

On this page:

Allowable expenses

You can only get tax relief for allowable expenses. Expenses are allowable if they're for the cost of:

  • travelling you had to do whilst doing your job
  • other expenses you had to pay whilst doing your job - and which related only to doing your job

You can't ask for tax relief if your employer has already reimbursed you for the expense and has agreed a 'dispensation' with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

You can find out more about the types of expenses that you can get relief for in the guide 'Tax allowances and reliefs - employees or directors' - follow the first link below.

How you get tax relief for your allowable work expenses depends on whether or not you fill in a Self Assessment tax return.

Learn about tax allowances and reliefs for employees or directors

Get information about deductions for expenses (PDF 868K)

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Getting tax relief for expenses if you don't fill in a tax return

If you don't have to fill in a tax return, you can get tax relief for your allowable expenses by:

  • filling in form P87 Tax relief for expenses of employment
  • phone

Form P87
The first time you ask for tax relief for your expenses you’ll have to contact HMRC in writing. To do this you should complete a form P87.

The form asks for details about your expenses and how you worked out the amount you want to claim.

If you have more than one job, or if you change jobs during the tax year, you'll need to fill in a separate form P87 for each job.

Go to form P87

By phone

If you phone HMRC to ask for relief for your expenses they will only be able to give you tax relief if all of the following conditions are met:

  • your expenses are less than £1,000 (or £2,500 for professional fees and subscriptions)
  • you've claimed them in a previous tax year for the same employment
  • HMRC has accepted your earlier claim
  • you haven't already been sent a P87 to complete

If you meet the conditions, HMRC will give you tax relief right away and repay any tax you've overpaid. Otherwise, you'll have to fill in form P87 before they can allow your claim.

Contact HMRC

Time limits for getting tax relief

The time limits for asking for tax relief for your expenses are shown in the table below.

Time limits for getting tax relief if you don’t complete a tax return

Tax year Tax year ended on You must claim by:

2010 to 11

5 April 2011

5 April 2015

2011 to 12

5 April 2012

5 April 2016

2012 to 13

5 April 2013

5 April 2017

2013 to 14

5 April 2014

5 April 2018

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Getting tax relief for expenses if you do fill in a tax return

You may have to fill in a tax return if:

  • you pay tax at higher rate
  • you're a director
  • you have other income you need to tell HMRC about

You can claim tax relief for your allowable work expenses on the employment page of the tax return.

If you claim tax relief for your allowable expenses on your tax return, you don't need to complete form P87.

Find out about completing your tax return

Time limits for getting tax relief

The time limits for asking for tax relief for your expenses are shown in the table below.

Time limits for getting tax relief if you complete a tax return

Tax year Tax year ended on You must claim by:
2010 to 11 5 April 2011 5 April 2015
2011 to 12 5 April 2012 5 April 2016
2012 to 13 5 April 2013 5 April 2017
2013 to 14 5 April 2014 5 April 2018

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How you'll get tax relief for expenses - depending on the amount you claim

The way that you'll get relief for your work expenses depends on the amount of your claim.

Claims up to £2,500

If your claim is £2,500 or less, HMRC normally gives you relief for your expenses through your tax code straight away. If you claim an estimated figure, they will review it at the end of the year. They will make any adjustments that are needed in your tax code for the next tax year.

Claims over £2,500

If your expenses claim is for more than £2,500, HMRC will give you relief in your tax code for the current year and for the next one - and send you a tax return to fill in. They will also check your tax calculation for the previous year.

Understanding your tax code

Learn more about expenses payments and tax relief

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