From education to employment

5 tax entitlements teachers and educational professionals could be missing out on

Teachers and education professionals represent a group of employees who are eligible to claim extra tax relief for certain expenses they pay as part of their job.

You may be surprised at what expenses you can claim tax back on and the money you can save in your pay packet each month. You can also make back-dated claims for the last four years.

Here’s a simple guide to what tax relief you could be missing out on:

Union fees

Choosing which teachers’ union to join is an important decision and the main unions are a powerful collective body when it comes to industrial action, influencing government policy and campaigning for better working conditions.

To be a member, teachers and education professionals must pay registration fees on a monthly or annual basis. In most instances, a percentage of membership fees is tax deductible…worth 20 percent to a basic rate taxpayer.

If you have not claimed previously, you may be able to make a claim for the last four years. HMRC usually make any adjustments needed through your tax code for the current tax year and they will also apply any tax relief to your pay going forward, so you typically only need to claim once. It is possible to backdate any claim to the previous 4 tax years and receive a lump sum payment.

Special clothing

You may be due a tax deduction for the cost of cleaning, repair or replacement of specialist clothing like protective clothing such as goggles and overalls, clothing for use in catering or science departments, or kit for teaching sports.

Teachers who are contractually obliged to teach or supervise PE lessons may also be due a contribution towards to cost of cleaning, replacing and maintaining sports clothes and shoes. This can be backdated to the last four tax years and received as a single payment, while any future claims will be paid in wages.

You don’t need to provide receipts but if you are claiming for significant expenditure in a year it can help if you can provide a list of the items you purchased and their approximate itemised cost. It only takes a couple of minutes online to check what you could be entitled to using an online calculator.

Mileage allowance

For teachers and education professionals making off-site visits, for example a sports ground or outdoor activity centre, or travelling to temporary places of work, a tax rebate could be due.

If you use your own vehicle to travel to different school sites or other work-related activities and receive less than the approved amount for mileage allowance payments (45p per mile) from your employer in expenses, you can claim tax relief on the difference.

There are three kinds of vehicle covered and the rate depends on the kind you use – car or van, motorcycle and cycle. Be sure to keep any travel or fuel receipts to make an expense claim via your employer first and foremost.

Supply teaching

If you’re a supply teacher, your employment arrangements are likely to be more complex than those of permanent teachers and it could mean you’ve been over-paying – or indeed under-paying – income tax.

If you teach at several different schools, you may pay more tax under PAYE than you should. If the amount of tax being deducted on your payslip appears too high or too low, it’s good to check if you’re due a refund or owe any additional tax. This may result in your tax code being updated based on your anticipated earnings for the year.

In some circumstances, a teacher may want to consider asking HMRC to split their tax code between two or more employers.

Finally, stay safe…

Don’t fall victim to fraudsters who are sending fake emails and text messages promising tax rebates on your behalf. Fraudulent communications are likely to increase around the end of the tax year (March/April time).

Never hand out any personal or payment details to companies you haven’t approached personally before or to HMRC who will only ever contact you via post or your employer.

If you suspect you have been the victim of a scam, report the issue to your bank/card issuer as soon as possible.

Tony Mills, Director of Online Tax Rebates

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