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How UK Pilots can claim up to £408 per year

Ben Hall
January 30, 2022
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All UK based professional pilots are entitled to tax relief on a whole range of work expenses, and the great thing is - there's no faffing around with receipts or expenditure tracking.

BALPA negotiated HMRC to create a Flat Rate Expense Allowance (FREA) for every UK based uniformed pilot. You don't even need to be a member of BALPA!

The FREA are fixed amount which are agreed by HMRC, whereby you can claim back income tax paid on that amount.

How much is the pilot FREA?

The main Flat Rate Expenses Allowance rate is £1,022 per year. For higher rate tax payers, that means you're eligible to claim back 40% of that amount each year, totalling £408.80. If you're a lower rate tax payer, you can claim 23% of that figure, meaning a rebate of £235.06.

This main FREA is designed to account for:

  • Cleaning your uniform
  • Navigation Flight Computers
  • Sunglasses
  • Atlas
  • Calculator
  • Pens/Clipboards
  • Chart Plotters
  • Second Passport
  • Knee Board
  • Flight Case
  • Stopwatch

There's an additional FREA you can claim if you've had to travel to any of the following:

  • Training Courses
  • Medicals
  • Flight Simulators
  • Technical Refresher Courses

For these, there is an additional £110 available, which would give higher rate tax payers £44 and lower rate tax payers £25.

Is there anything else I can claim for?

Yes there is! Pilots can claim additional tax relief on a range of items directly related to their work, which are not provided or reimbursed by your employer.

Here is a non-exhaustive list:

  • Noise cancelling headset
  • Personal electronic devices for computers that are only used for work purposes.
  • Replacement of uniform items
  • Food and drinks before and during flights
  • 67% of your BALPA subscription

You can get the full list of eligible items here: https://www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/employment-income-manual/eim50051

Am I eligible?

Probably. In the unlikely case of your employer covering the cost of all of the items listed above, then you're not allowed to claim this allowance at all. If your employer covers some of these costs, then you're eligible for partial relief.

In the more likely scenario of you personally shelling out for these items, you can claim this every year.

If you've only just found out about this (you're welcome), you can even backdate your claims for the past 5 years, potentially netting you £2k 🥳.

Awesome! How do I claim it?

If you already complete an annual self assessment tax return, then it's a piece of cake.

If you're a PAYE employee, you'll have to register for self-assessment and submit a yearly tax return. It's quite simple to complete on your own, and you can get all the info you need on the .GOV website.

If you don't have the time or the inclination to do it yourself, you can get an accountant to do it on your behalf. You'll obviously pay for that, but the amount your claiming is probably significantly more than the cost of an accountant.

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