Flat rate expenses


Flat rate expenses, sometimes also called work-related expenses or flat rate job expenses, are a form of tax relief available to employees on any expenses they have incurred while at work.


Flat rate expenses can apply to those who work in trades and industries which commonly require essential work-related expenses. In many cases trade unions have come to an agreement with HMRC to set a standard amount to cover the annual cost of these ‘on-the-job’ expenses.


It’s important that you make a claim for any flat rate expenses you incur so as to avoid paying too much tax and potentially receive a tax rebate.


What counts as a flat rate expense?


The types of expenses that qualify as flat rate job expenses depends on what industry you work in. As a general rule though, flat rate expenses are things that you specifically need to your job and are not provided/paid for directly by your employer.


This can include:



If you have incurred payments like the ones above while in the course of doing your job, then you are essentially out of pocket. HMRC’s flat rate scheme is a way to make it easy for you to claim tax relief on any work-related expenses.


Who is eligible to claim flat rate expenses?


Flat rate expense tax deductions can apply to anyone who works in a job that requires essential work-related expenses like the ones above. You can make a claim for your expenses from the past four years, as long as you:


  • Have paid income tax in the year or years of your claim
  • Not have the flat rate expense already in your tax code


How to make a claim for flat rate expenses


First of all, you can only claim for flat rate expenses if you are an employee. However, if your employer has already paid you back for your expenses then you will not be able to make a claim.


As long as those two conditions are not a problem you can submit a tax refund claim by filling out the P87 form. Once this has been sent and processed by HMRC your tax code will be changed to automatically provide flat rate expense relief each year – meaning you won’t have to keep making a claim every year. It’s worth noting though that if your expenses change then it is your responsibility to let HMRC know.

For more details apply online or call 0333 240 6122

How much is my flat rate expense refund worth?


The amount of rebate you can claim for your work expenses will depend on your circumstances. Unions have agreed the amount you can claim individually with HMRC, so it all depends on what your job is and what expenses you have incurred.


Annual flat rate expense refunds start at £60 per tax year, with the highest being £140 per tax year. When you consider that you can claim for the last four years then you could be in line for a substantial rebate.

HMRC have produced a table which shows all of the flat rate expense figures for different occupations. If your occupation isn’t listed then you may still be eligible to make a claim for the standard amount of £60:

Job Title
Agreed FRE
Agriculture All workers. 100
Aluminium a. Continual casting operators, process operators, de-dimplers, driers, drill punchers, dross unloaders, firemen, furnace operators and their helpers, leaders, mould-men, pourers, remelt department labourers and roll flatteners. 140
b. Cable hands, case makers, labourers, mates, truck drivers and measurers and storekeepers. 80
c. Apprentices. 60
d. All other workers. 120
Banks and Building Societies Uniformed doormen and messengers. 60
Brass and Copper Braziers, coppersmiths, finishers, fitters, moulders, turners and all other workers. 120
Building a. Joiners and carpenters. 140
b. Cement works, roofing felt and asphalt labourers. 80
c. Labourers and navvies. 60
d. All other workers. 120
Building Materials a. Stone masons. 120
b. Tilemakers and labourers. 60
c. All other workers. 80
Clothing a. Lacemakers, hosiery bleachers, dyers, scourers and knitters, knitwear bleachers and dyers. 60
b. All other workers. 60
Constructional Engineering a. Blacksmiths and their strikers, burners, caulkers, chippers, drillers, erectors, fitters, holders up, markers off, platers, riggers, riveters, rivet heaters, scaffolders, sheeters, template workers, turners and welders. 140
b. Banksmen, labourers, shop-helpers, slewers and straighteners. 80
c. Apprentices and storekeepers. 60
d. All other workers. 100
Electrical and Electricity Supply a. Those workers incurring laundry costs only. 60
b. All other workers. 120
Trades ancillary to engineering a. Pattern makers. 140
b. Labourers, supervisory and unskilled workers. 80
c. Apprentices and storekeepers. 60
d. Motor mechanics in garage repair shop. 120
e. All other workers. 120
Fire Service Uniformed fire fighters and fire officers. 80
Food All workers. 60
Forestry All workers. 100
Glass All workers. 80
Healthcare staff in the NHS, private hospitals and nursing homes
a. Ambulance staff on active service 185
b. Nurses, midwives, chiropodists, dental nurses, occupational, speech, physiotherapists and other therapists, healthcare assistants, phlebotomists and radiographers. 125
c. Plaster room orderlies, hospital porters, ward clerks, sterile supply workers, hospital domestics and hospital catering staff. 125
d. Laboratory staff, pharmacists and pharmacy assistants. 80
e. Uniformed ancillary staff: maintenance workers, grounds staff, drivers, parking attendants and security guards, receptionists and other uniformed staff. 80
Heating a. Pipe fitters and plumbers. 120
b. Coverers, laggers, domestic glaziers, heating engineers and all their mates. 120
c. All gas workers and all other workers. 100
Iron Mining a. Fillers, miners and underground workers. 120
b. All other workers. 100
Iron and Steel a. Day labourers, general labourers, stockmen, timekeepers, warehouse staff and weighmen. 80
b. Apprentices. 60
c. All other workers. 140
Leather a. Curriers (wet workers), fellmongering workers and tanning operatives (wet). 80
b. All other workers. 60
Particular Engineering a. Pattern makers. 140
b. Chainmakers; cleaners, galvanisers, tinners and wire drawers in the wire drawing industry and toolmakers in the lock making industry. 120
c. Apprentices and storekeepers. 60
d. All other workers. 80
Police Force Police officers (ranks up to and including Chief Inspector). 140
Precious Metals All workers. 100
Printing a. Letterpress Section-electrical engineers (rotary presses), electrotypers, ink and roller makers, machine minders (rotary), maintenance engineers (rotary presses) and stereotypers. 140
b. Bench hands (periodical and bookbinding section), compositors (letterpress section), readers (letterpress section) telecommunications and electronic section wire room operators, warehousemen (paper box making section). 60
c. All other workers. 100
Prisons Uniformed prison officers. 80
Public Service: Docks and Inland Waterways. a. Dockers, dredger drivers and hopper steerers. 80
b. All other workers. 60
Public Service: Public Transport. a. Garage hands including cleaners. 80
b. Conductors and drivers. 60
Quarrying All workers. 100
Railways See the appropriate category for craftsmen (for example engineers, vehicles, etc.) All other workers. 100
Seamen Carpenters. a. Passenger liners. 165
b. Cargo vessels, tankers, coasters and ferries. 140
Shipyards a. Blacksmiths and their strikers, boilermakers, burners, carpenters, caulkers, drillers, furnacemen (platers) holders up, fitters, platers, plumbers, riveters, sheet iron workers, shipwrights, tubers and welders. 140
b. Labourers. 80
c. Apprentices and storekeepers. 60
d. All other workers. 100
Textiles and Textile Printing a. Carders, carding engineers, overlookers and technicians in spinning mills. 120
b. All other workers. 80
Vehicles a. Builders, railway vehicle repairers and railway wagon lifters. 140
b. Railway vehicle painters, letterers, and builders’ and repairers’ assistants. 80
c. All other workers. 60
Wood and Furniture a. Carpenters, cabinetmakers, joiners, wood carvers and woodcutting machinists. 140
b. Artificial limb makers (other than in wood), organ builders and packaging case makers. 120
c. Coopers not providing their own tools, labourers, polishers and upholsterers. 60
d. All other workers. 100


For more information about expenses for the self-employed read our guide: List of allowable expenses for the self-employed

For more details apply online or call 0333 240 6122