If you’re a chef and haven’t been claiming back on some of your work-related expenses, you could be missing out on hundreds of pounds a year. Many chefs don’t realise that they have to make tax relief claims to receive this money back. In fact, it’s estimated that around £962m of expenses go unclaimed each year in the UK.

Whether you purchase new equipment, regularly clean your whites or travel to training workshops, you’re entitled to make a claim.

So, what can chefs claim for tax in their return? In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  • The top 4 expenses you can claim as a chef
  • Other expenses to consider
  • How to claim expenses
  • How Countingup keeps everything cooking

The top 4 expenses you can claim as a chef

Are you regularly purchasing items for work that seem to be eating into your paycheque? Great news – you don’t have to be out of pocket. Here are four of the most common expenses that chefs can claim for on their tax return:

1) Cooking equipment

Every professional chef needs good cooking equipment, but this doesn’t come cheap. If you’ve purchased your own equipment, then don’t forget to add these items to your tax return. To have a claim approved, the items must be essential and not just ‘nice to haves’. This could include equipment such as:

  • Knives and sharpeners
  • Electrical appliances (e.g. a food processor)
  • Baking trays and tins
  • Chopping boards
  • Crockery and glassware
  • Cooking utensils (e.g. a spatula)
  • Saucepans

You won’t be able to make a claim on equipment if it was supplied by an employer or has already been reimbursed. You will also need to keep proof of purchase as you will need to share this when making a claim. An accounting app and business current account like Countingup makes this easy, prompting you to take photos of your receipts as soon as you make a transaction.

2) Uniforms

If you have to buy your own uniform, you may be able to chop off some of the tax you paid. However, for your claim to be approved, all of the following criteria must apply:

  • An employer requires you to wear it when working: this means that it is compulsory to purchase specialist clothing.
  • You bought it yourself: if an employer provides your uniform or washes it for you, you won’t be entitled to tax relief on this.
  • Your uniform is recognisable: this means that if you were in public, people would know who you’re working for because of logos or a company name displayed somewhere on it.

Note that you won’t be able to claim tax back on any PPE. If your job requires you to wear protective gear, the employer needs to provide it free of charge or reimburse you for the cost.

3) Cleaning costs

The standard expense for chefs who regularly clean their own whites is around £60 per year. HMRC considers this and provides specified rates for different occupations depending on how frequently they need to wash their workwear. 

By claiming back on this expense, you could get 20-40% of the total amount back. Plus, if you haven’t already been claiming on expenses like this, you can backdate your allowance over the last four tax years. This means you could be entitled to around £48 to £96.

4) Education and training 

Even the most experienced chefs are constantly learning about their craft. However, this can become expensive. That’s why you’re able to claim back several of the costs associated with education such as:

  • Course fees
  • Accommodation and meals (if you’re required to stay overnight somewhere)
  • Travel
  • Academic journals
  • Computer and phone costs
  • Stationery and textbooks

The main caveat is that any training courses you take must be related to your current role. 

You may also be required to attend short training courses such as first aid and management skills. While these are less likely to incur as many expenses, you are still entitled to claim for the cost of travel and accommodation expenses if required.

Other expenses to consider

Whilst the expenses listed above are generally the most common ones that chefs claim back tax on, it isn’t exhaustive. It’s worth considering any other costs associated with your role and researching whether you would be able to claim back some of the tax. This could include:

  • Membership or union fees
  • Work-related books (e.g. for recipes)
  • Work-related phone and broadband bills
  • The cost of maintaining a home office (if you’re required to complete work at home)

How to claim expenses

If you’ve paid too much tax and want to claim it back, you’ll need to fill out form R38, which you can find here on the gov.uk website. Remember, you can claim up to four years’ worth of taxes if you haven’t already. This is applicable even if you’ve been made redundant or changed jobs during this time.

You will need to gather as much information as possible regarding the expenses you’ve incurred. This could include:

  • Contract of employment
  • Copies of payslips
  • Receipts for work equipment and uniform
  • Details of sites you’ve attended

The more information you can provide, the greater the chance of a higher tax repayment.

If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to do this as part of the Self Assessment process.

How to save hours of admin time when it comes to your tax return

Tax admin can be stressful and time-consuming. 

The Countingup app makes it simple. 

Countingup, the two in one business current account and accounting app, is designed to make it easier for you to record your expenses so that you can focus on running your business. It automates expense categorisation, prompts you to capture receipts when you’ve made a transaction – saving you hours of admin time when it comes to submitting your tax return. The app also gives you live insights into your business finances.

Find out more here.