Tax Relief for Teachers

Teachers often spend their own money on things needed to do their job. What they can claim back against their tax bill often causes confusion. This blog aims to clear things up.

Who can claim?

You may be able to claim tax relief if you are an employee (including if you work through an agency) and you pay for certain things which you need to do your job. In general, if you pay for job-related expenses and you are reimbursed in full by your employer then no tax relief can be claimed.

Which type of expenses qualify?

The general rule is an expense can be claimed if incurred ‘wholly, exclusively and necessarily’ in the performance of duties. For example, if the school does not supply text books and as a teacher you are required to supply these for use in the classroom, tax relief may be claimed on the cost of the books. Further HMRC guidance can be found here. Some examples of expenses that may be allowable include professional subscription costs such as those to the GTC or union costs (check with the union). In some rare cases travel expenditure may also be allowable. Tax relief can be given for cleaning, replacing or repairing of uniform or specialist clothing.

Common expenditure that does not qualify

We’ve routinely spoken to teachers who wrongly believed they could claim for expenditure such as use of home where they set aside some space at home to conduct marking. This fails the “necessarily” test in that it is not necessary to conduct the marking of work at home. HMRC’s position on this can be found here. Tax relief is also generally not available on the below costs;


  • DBS
  • Training courses
  • Classroom props


Time Limits

You can go back 4 tax years to claim for any expenditure that hasn’t previously been claimed. Claims for the 15/16 tax year must be made to HMRC by 5th April 2020.

How Can I Claim?

There are various ways to claim and you may be surprised to know that you do not need to hire an accountant or agent to do this for you. The easiest way would be to write to HMRC or call them to advise of expenses incurred that you wish to claim.

You can also do this by submitting form P87. If expenditure for any tax year is more than £2,500 then completing a tax return is a must.

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