Why It Pays For Teachers To Educate Themselves On Expenses

Teachers are often required to spend their own money on learning materials for lessons. These purchases can be anything from stationery to subscriptions with major organisations – and, currently, many teachers remain unsure as to whether…

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Last Updated: 8th February 2022

Teachers are often required to spend their own money on learning materials for lessons. These purchases can be anything from stationery to subscriptions with major organisations – and, currently, many teachers remain unsure as to whether or not they can claim for them as expenses.

The rules can vary depending on whether you are employed as a teacher or working as a self-employed tutor. We explore the expenses that these teachers can claim (and how they can claim them) here.


If you are employed by a school and your employer fully reimburses you for job-related expenses, you cannot claim tax relief on these expenses. To reclaim expenses incurred personally, you need to be able to demonstrate that any expenses incurred are necessary for the performance of your duties.

They cannot be used to better your abilities, or even to put you in the position where you can perform those duties generally. Examples of what would not normally be allowed include:

  • Training courses to learn new techniques
  • Stationery used for home marking
  • Equipment used in the classroom – On the assumption that the school will provide the basic materials and equipment you need.

As an employee, the main items that can be claimed for include:

  • Subscriptions to a professional body or institution – However, the institution must be on the HMRC-approved list, known as List 3. Subscriptions to NASUWT qualify as allowable expenses, for example.
  • Travel expenses – There are two conditions that must be met to qualify for travel expenses: journeys need to be made throughout the performance of your duties, and travel must be deemed necessary between workplaces. According to HMRC, the majority of teachers are unlikely to qualify for either of these two conditions. However, if you are a specialist teacher travelling between schools or a supply teacher working via an agency, you would incur substantial enough travel costs to qualify for expenses.
  • Replacement sports kit and trainers for PE teachers – Although the initial costs of these items would not be allowed.
  • Lab coats and protective clothing – If you are required to wear a lab coat or protective jacket, and you are also responsible for cleaning this clothing, then you may be able to claim a fixed annual allowance. Again, HMRC have a list of agreed allowances, including £60 for cleaning clothing, and these can be found here.


Claiming expenses can be easier for those that are self-employed. Legislation dictates that expenses only need to have been incurred “wholly and exclusively” for the purposes of running the business.

As the business is led by yourself, you have a wider range of reasons for incurring expenses. This does broaden the range of expenses that, if incurred, can be claimed.

The main items would include:

  • Travel expenses to and from your temporary place of work – For example, your pupil’s home.
  • Subscriptions to a professional body
  • DBS costs related to your self-employment
  • Use of home – Assuming some work is carried out at your home.
  • Stationery
  • Textbooks and materials used
  • Public liability insurance
  • Professional fees for completing your self-employed accounts

If the total costs are lower than £1,000, then you can elect to claim the new £1,000 trading allowance instead of the actual expenses.

How do I submit teaching expenses? 

As an employee, you can complete and submit a P87 through the HMRC portal. Alternatively, you can fill in the document online, print it out and post it to HMRC. If you choose the latter option, you will have to complete the form in one session so be sure that you have all the relevant information to hand.

Finally, if you’ve claimed expenses before and your total expenses are less than £1,000 (or £2,500 for professional fees), you can complete the entire process over the phone by calling HMRC on 0300 200 3300. 

Remember, you must claim on expenses within four years of the end of the tax year in which those expenses were incurred. So, if you were to incur expenses in 2019/20, you would need to claim for that expenditure before the end of 2024/25.

If you are self-employed, then you will need to register with HMRC and file a Self Assessment tax return. Tax returns need to be filed no later than nine months after the end of the tax year. So, if you received self-employed income during the year ended 5th April 2019, then you would need to file your tax return no later than 31st January 2020 to avoid the £100 late filing penalty.

Where GoSimpleTax can help 

Teachers have one of the hardest professions in the public sector. Often feeling undervalued, it is no surprise that most secondary school teachers feel their workload is unmanageable. Thankfully, there is an easier way to submit your teaching expenses.

If you would like a solution that alerted you to any opportunities where you could potentially lower your tax liability and improve lessons, look no further. GoSimpleTax can indicate purchases which can be claimed for, and we take all the stress out of filling out and filing the Self Assessment tax return.

Whether you make purchases in a self-employed capacity or have your expenditure partly reimbursed by the school, we make it straightforward to claim and recover the difference. Interested? Get in touch with our expert team today.

Last updated on 2nd October 2019.

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Blog content is for information purposes and over time may become outdated, although we do strive to keep it current. It's written to help you understand your Tax's and is not to be relied upon as professional accounting, tax and legal advice due to differences in everyone's circumstances. For additional help please contact our support team or HMRC.

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