THE BLOG

Nurses Owed Thousands in Overpaid Tax

13/08/2013 13:44 BST | Updated 12/10/2013 10:12 BST

The nursing profession requires not just an enormous time and emotional commitment, but a financial commitment as well. In fact, every year thousands of pounds in overpaid tax goes unclaimed by nurses unaware of the financial support available to them.

Unclaimed allowances and tax office errors are among the most common reasons why nurses overpay on tax; there are also various daily expenses for which you might be owed a refund. This article looks at these hidden costs of being a nurse and what you can do to protect yourself from overpayment.

Memberships/subscriptions

If you pay membership or subscription fees to one or more of the following, you may be entitled to claim a tax refund:

• Unison

• General Dental Council (GDC)

• General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)

• Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

• Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS)

• Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC)

• Royal College of Midwives (RCM)

• Royal College of Nursing (RCN)

• Society of Radiographers (SOR)

Professional Indemnity Insurance

According to the New England Journal of Medicine (August 18, 2011), 75% of UK physicians in 'low-risk' specialties will experience a lawsuit at some point in their career - or 7.4% of physicians per year. Even though just 1.6% of cases result in a payment to plaintiffs, the financial implications when this happens are often extremely damaging.

Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) is there to protect staff if a patient makes a medical negligence claim against them and is, fortunately, a tax-deductible expense.

Work uniforms

Where workplaces do not provide on-site laundry facilities, staff must wash their uniforms in their own time, at their own expense.

This is no small feat given the fact that many nurses change their uniform several times a day; in fact, according to a forum on AllNurses.com, many nurses own as many as 18 - 20 pairs of scrubs to eke out the length of time between washes.

In fact, the government allowance for healthcare workers' uniforms is up to £140 per year (more than double the average uniform allowance of £60), meaning that a nurse that has paid to wash, repair or replace their own uniforms for the past 4 years might be owed a tax refund of up to £350, depending on their tax band.

Books for Work Use

Staying up-to-date with the latest developments in your field by purchasing textbooks and journals can be costly. The good news is that if this material is purchased for work use, it may qualify as a tax-deductible expense.

Travel

Although travel to and from your ordinary place of work is not normally tax-deductible, mileage incurred while visiting patients or on emergency call-outs is an exception. Make sure you keep all receipts for fuel or transport when on-call.

Making a claim

According to NHSTaxRefund.co.uk, if you have overpaid on tax through a HMRC error, they will usually inform you of the overpayment and reimburse you without any action from your side (though this can take time).

However, if you incur tax-deductible expenses in the course of your employment, HMRC is under no such obligation to repay this tax to you automatically and you must take full responsibility for your claim.

For some medical professionals, this claim can amount to thousands of pounds, as your refund can be backdated by almost 5 years.

If you work in nursing, then you will already know that hidden daily expenses can quickly add up. However, being aware of your tax position can help you to enjoy as much of your hard-earned wages as possible.