Originally written in August 2015.
Royal Mail have delivered an official looking letter which is headed in big bold letters “UNIFORM TAX REBATE“. The letter goes on to tell me I have been identified as someone is highly likely to be overpaying tax on my income. It then explains that if I wear a uniform at work (I don’t) and launder it myself I may be able to claim an allowance against my taxable income.
They helpfully enclose a partially filled in ‘Tax Claim & Deed of Assignment’ form for me to fill in and post back in the prepaid envelope provided so that I can get my hands on this tax rebate.
So who is sending me this?
This all looks very official, this is from the Taxman him or herself isn’t it? It even says HMRC and PAYE in the address on the prepaid envelope so that it goes to the right department.
And another thing , I am sure I have heard mention of such tax perks on a TV programme, maybe Watchdog or the one Martin Lewis does, so it must be genuine?
Well yes claiming against your tax bill for laundering compulsory work wear is genuine, but this is not a letter from the HMRC in a helpful mood. A look at the bottom of the letter reveals it to be from Online Tax Rebates Limited and in no way connected to HRMC or any other government department.
Why is a private company offering to get me a tax rebate? Well the first clue is in the title of that form they enclosed, the ‘Tax Claim & Deed of Assignment’. Look above the place where I would sign to claim and it says ‘I authorise Uniform Tax Rebate‘, so by signing I would be assigning my claim rights to Uniform Tax Rebate and their parent company.
“So what do they get out of that”? I ask myself. Well that is revealed in the letter they sent, here is the telling sentence:
HRMC will pay any rebate due directly to us and we will forward a cheque to you, in due course, net of our deductions being a £12 payment processing charge and a further deduction of 24%, including VAT, where due.
So that is what their game is! They will very kindly put in my claim for me, and then siphon off their fees before sending me the balance, nice!
But I do not need to use a claims company, nor does anyone else
Anyone can go to the HMRC web site Tax relief for employees page and fill in the claim form on there.
There is further information on doing this over at MoneySavingExpert.com and that web site throws up a rather interesting fact:
The standard flat rate expense allowance (FREA) for uniform maintenance is £60 (for 2015/16) – so basic rate taxpayers can claim £12 back (20% of £60) FREE uniform tax rebates – MSE
So for standard rate taxpayers claiming one years relief through Uniform Tax Rebate the amount they will be refunded, £12, is exactly the same amount as the ‘payment processing‘ charge Uniform Tax Rebate deduct. It is a good job I am not a cynic.