HMRC inundated with tax relief demand – how ‘P87’ form can help with work expenses

HMRC has seen an increase in demand for tax relief in recent weeks due to coronavirus. The disease has forced the country to adapt and people across the UK must now work from home.


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This will impact people differently based on their profession but many people may be burdened with additional costs that their offices once provided.

Thankfully, tax relief can be sought for certain working purchases and the form needed to receive it has, reportedly, led to the HMRC being swamped with claims.

A “P87” form can be completed and used to claim tax relief on items purchased that are necessary to complete certain duties.

Items that can be claimed for can vary but purportedly, the P87 form can be used to cover things such as desks and stationary.

Officially, the P87 form can be used for broad “employment expenses” and the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group reveal that it can be used to make a claim in the following circumstances:

  • The person is not within self-assessment – meaning that they do not have to submit an annual tax return
  • The person is an employee who has spent their own money on allowable employment expenses (which are not reimbursed by the employer) and
  • Their allowable expenses are less than £2,500 for the tax year

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The tax relief is implemented through a person’s tax code if the claim is made for the current tax year.

If the claim is for a previous tax year, HMRC may repay people by cheque, although it is possible to request that repayments be sent directly to a bank or building society account.

The P87 form itself can be completed online and when it is done the person involved will be provided with a reference number to track its progress.

The government detail that it is possible to include multiple tax years in the claim as well as cover up to five different jobs.


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They advise claimants to gather all relevant information together before starting the claim and include all the expenses in a single request.

It is also possible to claim by post or phone if the person claimed in the previous year and the total expenses are less than either £1,000 or £2,500 for professional fees and subscriptions.

The government do not provide precise information on what can be claimed for but they confirm that it might be possible to get tax relief if a person is using their own money for things that must be bought for their job and the things bought are only used for work.

They warn however that tax relief cannot be used for “alternatives” such as a new laptop bought because the person did not like the one an employer provided.

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Taxaid, the tax charity, provides more detailed examples of what may be claimed for which could help people visualise their options:

  • Travelling costs that had to be covered to perform job, such as travel needed from an office or depot to meet a customer (albeit, this one may not be relevant in the current environment)
  • Food and hotel costs can be included in travel costs where it is necessary to stay away from home
  • Professional subscriptions if the person involved belongs to a professional body that is required to handle the work
  • Any other costs that had to be spent just to do the job such as safety clothing

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