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Uniform tax rebate and furlough: Do you need to pay it back?

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With millions of people furloughed since the start of the pandemic, many who receive a uniform tax rebate may wonder whether they have to pay back the money to HMRC.

The uniform tax rebate offers eligible workers tax relief on the cost of cleaning, repairing or replacing specialist clothing, such as uniforms, clothes you specifically wear for work or safety boots.

The amount you receive depends on the industry you work in, your usual rate of tax and what part of the UK you live in.

Typically, workers in England who wear a unform to work can increase their tax-free personal allowance by £60 a year, so a basic (20%) taxpayer can claim back £12, while a higher rate (40%) taxpayer can save £24 in the tax year.

But with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the launch of the furlough scheme placing nine million people on standby, many may not have been back to work for months.

Do you need to pay back the tax?

HMRC confirmed that workers who have been furloughed for any amount of time and who usually claim the tax relief do not need to pay it back.

The department explained that the flat-rate tax relief for cleaning your work uniform is never apportioned for the hours worked.

This means if you were furloughed for part of the year, as long as you worked some hours between 6 April 2020 and 5 April 2021, you will be able to keep your tax relief.

Further, with furlough coming to an end this month and it being replaced with the Job Support Scheme, HMRC confirmed that if workers meet the eligibility requirements to claim the tax relief and have worked some hours during the tax year, they will still be able to claim.

The only exception is if your expenses have already been paid back by your employer.

More on the uniform tax rebate

To claim back the expense via the government’s online service, you need a government gateway user ID and password. You can create a user ID if you don’t already have one, just have your National Insurance number and a recent payslip or P60 or a valid UK passport to hand.

You may be able to claim £125 tax-free personal allowance if for example you work in catering in the NHS. This means basic (20%) taxpayers in England, NI and Wales can claim £25 in each tax year while higher rate (40%) taxpayers will save £50 in tax each year.

You may be able to claim money back up to four tax years, so back to April 2016. Once you’ve applied, your tax code will change for the year ahead.

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