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Can Glasses be a Business Expense in the UK?

The tax world is pretty intricate and complex, and navigating through it can be, at times, a bit onerous. That being said, all you need is the basic knowledge, and you can navigate about it.

One of the essential parts of tax law is tax exemptions. This article will focus specifically on UK tax law and whether you can claim the issuance of glasses as a business expense in the United Kingdom.

The essentials

The main thing you have to understand about glasses is their duality in terms of purpose. A quintessential example of the said duality is when the glasses are used both in the workplace and at home.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, HMRC, rules that, based on the Health and Safety regulations, workers or employees who need to use Visual Display Units, VDUs, and Display Screen Equipment, DSEs, are entitled to claiming the costs of the said appliances from their employers, so long as they meet the strict requirements stipulated in the Health and Safety Regulations.

Thus, this raised the issue of self-employment. If you are self-employed, does that mean that you can cover the glasses’ cost through the business?

What if you are self-employed?

Self-employment and normal employment are two different things, and this can be seen when it comes to tax and tax exemptions.

In self-employment, the cost and expenditure used to cover an eye test cannot be regarded as a business expense. This is because there aren’t any legal requirements in the Health and Safety Regulations that cover this specific situation.

Glasses, on the other hand, are a different case. With regards to glasses and tax exemptions, the duality of wearing glasses comes into play.

If you wear glasses at work alone, then there is a likelihood that they can be covers as tax exemptions. However, if you wear glasses at home and work, then it is unlikely that your claim of these costs incurred against taxes will succeed.

Glasses and taxes are a capricious topic, and this is because the HMRC will find it had to believe that the glasses used were wholly and purely for business, and thus will likely dismiss the tax exemption claim.

However, this issue can be addressed if you can prove that the glasses are left at the office after working hours, thus verifying that they are only used for work. This way, you will be able to bring forth the argument that they are, in fact, a business expense, and thus they can be claimed in the tax return.

Claiming the cost of glasses and eye tests as a business expense

According to the HMRC, under the Health and Safety Regulations, workers using VDUs and DSEs can transfer the costs of the eye test, and subsequently, the purchase of the said equipment to the business.

Limited liability companies

The rules concerning glasses and taxes do change a bit when it comes to limited companies. This is because the business is required to follow the Health and Safety Regulations. Precise laws surrounding glasses and if they are allowable for personal or corporate tax for the employees or directors of a firm exist.

To begin with, you need to get an eye test. The company can pay for regular eye tests for its employees and directors under safety and health legislation. This applies when it is necessary to utilize display screen equipment for periods of an hour or longer at any one time daily. An eye test result should show that any lenses an optician has prescribed are for display work only rather than a general prescription.

If the employees of the organization or enterprise are required to use digital screens such as laptops for more than an hour daily, regularly, then the cost of eye tests done on the employees can be deemed as an allowable business expense in corporate tax.

With regards to glasses, the duality of use must still be taken into account. The more the glasses are used by the employees in day to day endeavors, both inside and outside the enterprise, the more difficult it is to argue that the glasses are indeed business expenses, and thus should be allowable in corporate tax.

If an eye test is conducted on an employee, and the results show that they will need glasses to go about their office business only, then the cost of both the glasses can be considered a business expense. This is a bit utopic since, in reality, it may be a bit more difficult to prove that glasses will be needed when dealing with a laptop and not the TV or when driving.

Worry not, though. Even when there is a dual-use of the glasses, the business can still claim the portion that directly relates to the business. That being said, this will directly result in the business portion in the said claim becoming a taxable benefit. Thus, there will be a need to fill the P11d forms while also paying Class 1a national insurance.

If an employee is wearing or wears glasses for personal reasons, the employer cannot pay for the contact lenses or glasses used unless they are DSE or VDU prescribed.