Are you claiming all the tax-deductible expenses you can?

Whilst pay freezes and pension reforms have taken their toll on the brave and hard working of the NHS, thousands of doctors have also been missing out on income that’s rightfully theirs.

I haven’t yet met a doctor who hasn’t put a hand in their own pocket to pay for work related expenses. All well and good, except the vast majority of them forget to claim for those expenses and miss out on the tax return due to them.

So what can you claim for and is it really worth all the hassle?

Tax-deductible expenses doctors and dentists can claim for

What expenses can you claim for?

HMRC classify tax-deductible expenses as either ‘travelling you had to do in your job’ or ‘other expenses you had to pay in doing your job – and which related ONLY to doing your job.’

Unfortunately, HMRC don’t provide a definitive list so a bit of common sense has to prevail here.

Some of the more popular items are:

  • Professional fees and subscriptions: BMA, GMC, MPS, Royal Societies…the list is long for this area
  • Business mileage or fuel, excluding commuting to your normal place of work
  • Tools and specialist equipment such as theatre shoes, stethoscopes and so forth.

“But what about all those courses and exams I have paid for?” I hear you say. It’s true, they can add up to what feels like a Greek bailout fund. The downside is that HMRC sees them as career progression and doesn’t normally allow them.

How do you claim your expenses?

If your claim is less than £1,000 then you can send an old fashioned letter to HMRC with a summary of the details and the total for the tax year (not forgetting to tell them who you are and your National Insurance number).

Or, if you’ve had a successful claim in the past and you want to listen to 5 minutes of recorded message, you can phone them (must be the civil servant cuts!).

If your claim is for over £1,000 but under £2,500, you will need to complete and send a short form called a P87 that’s available from the HMRC’s website.

Anything over £2,500 and you will need to claim via self-assessment.

Here’s an example

If a Registrar claims for this years’ worth of BMA and GMC subscription, it can be in excess of £625. If they send a letter to HMRC explaining this, HMRC will increase the Registrar’s personal allowance tax code by £625.

This means that more of their income is untaxed, thus they receive tax relief at their highest rate. In this case, that’s likely to be 40%. So, £625 x 40% = £250 more income in their pay.

It gets better! If you haven’t claimed before then you can claim for expenses in previous years (although there is a limit). You may need to scroll left and right if you’re viewing the table below on a small screen.

Tax Year Tax Year Ended On You Must Claim By
2012-13 5 April 2013 5 April 2017
2013-14 5 April 2014 5 April 2018
2014-15 5 April 2015 5 April 2019
2015-16 5 April 2016 5 April 2020

Table sourced from HMRCs website

If this same Registrar had paid but not previously claimed for their BMA and GMC subscriptions in the previous tax years, they would be looking at 4 years’ worth of expenses. Assuming they had the same costs as above for all 4 years, that’s 4 x £250 = £1,000.

That’s £1,000 for the time it takes to pen and send a simple letter!

What are the drawbacks?

All doctors should be declaring any additional income that they receive, including cremation money. This needs to be added to your letter to the HMRC as earned income, although it will offset any expenses you are claiming for.

Lean on your comrades!

Because of the complexities of what you can and can’t claim for, it is advisable, in many instances, to engage the services of a good accountant or tax adviser. This is particularly so if you need to claim your expenses going back a number of years or if you have private practice income.

For more guidance and information, contact your Legal & Medical IFA or visit

Winston Churchill once said “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Why not take a cue from some of the spirit of the blitz, dig for victory and grow your own income!

Updated in January 2017

Legal & Medical Investments Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice. The tax reliefs referred to are those currently applying in the United Kingdom to UK Tax Residents. These tax reliefs are liable to change. The value of any tax relief available will depend upon the individual circumstances of the taxpayer.

12 thoughts on “Are you claiming all the tax-deductible expenses you can?

  1. Dr Abdy

    Thank you so much for your clear explanation.
    I understand that the courses, exams and CPD fees might not be acceptable by the tax officers but what about the devices we normally use for research and readings like laptops and tablets?

    1. Max Spurgeon

      Hi Dr Abdy
      This question is probably one better answered by your accountant. In my experience it can depend on how you are set up, ie solely NHS or NHS and private income.
      Kind Regards


  2. Susana Moreira

    I have a very intriguing question. Are the appraisal / revalidation fees tax deductible? It’s quite a lot of money and, from my point of view, it’s an obligation all doctors have and not something we do for career progression.
    Thank you for your help.

    1. Max Spurgeon

      Hi Susana
      I want to give a definitive answer, but seldom is life that straight forward. This firmly falls into the realms of accountancy, so i asked an accountant. The answer was, it depends on a number of factors…. Therefore I think you would need to ask your accountant, if you do not have one then let us know as we deal with a number of accountants who specialise with medics.
      Sorry not to be of more help on this one.

      Kind Regards


      1. Susana Moreira

        Hi Max,

        Thank you so much for your answer.
        I would really like if you could then give me the contact of one of the accountants you mentioned.
        Thank you for your attention.

        Kind regards,

  3. Julianna

    You can only include the medical expenses you paid during the year and you can only use the expenses once on the return. You must reduce your total deductible medical expenses for the year by any reimbursement of deductible medical expenses and expenses used when figuring other credits or deductions. This is true whether you receive the reimbursement directly or it is paid directly to the doctor, hospital, or other medical provider.

  4. Michael Bennett

    In my tax year 2016/17 I had a knee replacement privately, for which I paid £11750.00 from my own funds. I am 82, a pensioner depending on pensions only.
    I pay tax on income over £11500.00 can I use my medical costs for tax relief.

    1. Max Spurgeon

      Dear Mike,
      I hope it was money well spent. This typically falls into the realms of accountancy, but i am unaware of any scheme that allows tax relief for private medical operations.

      Kind Regards

      L&M Team

  5. Ed

    So are these expenses above and beyond the job expenses and professional subscripsions fees? I have never claimed any of my expenses however on my tax code letter from HMRC I have the above 2 items listed together with Personal allowance.
    Thank you

    1. Owen Beswick

      Hi Ed

      I think the way to approach this is to be honest with yourself and ask yourself the question “Is the expense I’m incurring work related in any way?” If it is, then claim for it or a proportion of it!

      Any expense incurred that is directly related to being a doctor is “allowable” against your income. This includes the “obvious” expenses of subscriptions and memberships but other “expenses” are allowable. For example, I have a number of maxillofacial clients who make/made a claim for their “loops”. They also claim for a proportion of the cost of a laptop. The justification for this is that the laptop is essential to their work (high definition photos etc.)

      It’s strange that you have the items listed on your return which suggests that you have made a claim previously (maybe in the dim and distant past!). Very often HMRC will adopt the attitude that, if you have claimed for something once, then it is an ongoing claim and will adjust your code accordingly, every year. I would be inclined to look back at previous codings and see how long it’s been applied for. I would then check to see if you have claimed/are claiming, enough.

      Best wishes

  6. Gp with an otoscope

    I tried to claim for an otoscope which I use for work. My work does not provide any otoscopes and I need to use this daily when seeing patients with ear pain and children with temperatures. HMRC has declined this on the grounds hat they do not think I use this solely for work. I am intrigued as to other possible uses of an otoscope and will now carry it with me wherever I go to see what else I can use it for outside work. The HMRC advise that I will need to fill in a self assessment form if I want to continue my claim. As the otoscope cost £60 I assume this is simply a deterrent since it would be a waste of time to fill in a long form for a £12 refund!

    1. Owen Beswick

      Hi there

      Depending on your current highest national tax rate, you should probably be completing a self assessment form every year anyway as it is an opportunity to claim tax relief on anything that you use for work purposes plus subscriptions, memberships etc. The self assessment form is not difficult especially for those who are “employed”. I would recommend that you complete the necessary paperwork. If you are a higher rate taxpayer, then you are saving £24 on a £60 purchase.

      Best wishes


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