Self-employed healthcare worker? Key tax savings you can make

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Date: 26 May 2020

A nurse is putting on surgical gloves

While the nation's attention is currently fixed on the work our carers and hospital workers are doing during the COVID-19 outbreak, little thought is paid to those in the healthcare sector that are self-employed and who still need to submit their tax returns.

It's sometimes tough to determine what counts as a deductible expense and what doesn't. That's why we've asked Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to provide a guide to tax claims for self-employed healthcare workers.

What clothing and uniform expenses can I claim for?

Uniforms are costly. And while you operate as a self-employed individual, you may also represent certain authorities when you're caring for patients or vulnerable people. As a result, you may be expected to purchase a uniform or your own PPE.

Fortunately, you're able to claim for it as an allowable business expense. Provided that what you're purchasing is either a uniform or necessary protective clothing needed for your work, you'll qualify for tax relief.

What's more, if you need to purchase any additional PPE for your role (say, gloves and face masks), this is also considered an allowable expense.

Are there any other expenses I may be eligible for?

It largely depends on your specific role within healthcare. If you operate as a consultant, for example, you may be required to be a member of a professional organisation in order to practise in your field. That's why subscription and registration fees are often eligible for tax relief.

HMRC have a list of approved organisations and learned societies to help you determine whether you can claim or not. Whilst this list is aimed at employees, it gives a good view of the subscriptions you can claim as an expense on your tax return.

If you're a carer, you may be required to drive your clients' homes. Petrol costs can quickly add up – so, as long as you're driving for work purposes, you can claim some travel costs in your Self Assessment tax return. This extends to the costs of using public transport and parking, which is especially useful if you're travelling to hospitals.

How can I claim my expenses?

Firstly, be sure you've registered for self assessment. If you've not done this before, you'll be sent a letter following your registration with a 10-digit Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number. With this, you can set up your account for the Self Assessment online service. However, the process takes approximately ten working days. You should bear this in mind if it is approaching the self assessment tax return deadline.

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Currently, self assessment tax returns can be submitted to HMRC via post, HMRC's online portal, or using tax return software. By filing online or using tax return software, you'll effectively be giving yourself an additional three months' extension as the online submission deadline is 31st January (as opposed to 31st October of the previous year for postal submission).

If you're new to self assessments, you claim for tax relief by adding up your total allowable expenditure and including this figure on your tax return. Be sure to keep all receipts as they can act as evidence should HMRC require it. Of course, parking and clothing receipts are some of the easiest items to lose. This is why it's important that you pay careful attention to how you store and log them, otherwise you run the unnecessary risk of a higher tax bill.

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