Are Training Costs Tax Deductible for the Self-Employed?

I’ve updated this post on 11 March 2020

When you go self-employed in the UKit is really important to stay on top of your game to maintain a competitive edge. 

So with no colleagues to learn from it is natural to turn to courses, reading and training to give you the skills you need. 

But training often is not cheap.

So knowing whether the training course you want to attend is tax deductible may help you decide whether you attend or not.

Training for the Self-Employed

Broadly speaking training tends to fall into two categories:

  1. Training courses to improve your skills;
  2. Courses to learn new skills.

There are different rules set out by HMRC which govern whether training costs are tax deductible.

Training Courses to Improve Your Skills

Training course that improves your skills when you are self-employed, rather than teach you something entirely new, are tax deductible.

HMRC consider learning to improve your skills that are part of your day-to-day trade part of being in business.

Say for example you have been a self-employed web developer and go on a training course to learn more about mobile responsive websites. 

Then the cost of this course would be tax deductible.

You can also include the cost of any courses, books and travel associated with your training.

Learn More: Claiming for Travel and Food when You’re Self-Employed

Training Course to Learn New Skills

If you choose to attend a course that teaches you a new skill, then this cost is not tax deductible.

If a self-employed web developer goes on a training course to learn about SEO so she can offer digital marketing services, the cost of this course would not be tax deductible.

HMRC do not consider learning new skills part of day to day business, it’s part of starting a new business or revenue scheme.

Different rules apply to Directors of Limited Companies and those employed in full time jobs.

When you are self-employed incorrect tax claims can result in penalties being charged by HMRC.

It is important to be certain that your training courses are tax deductible. 

Always seek professional advice if you are unsure.

Self-Employed Allowable Expenses Cheatsheet

Anita Forrest
About Anita Forrest

Anita is a Chartered Accountant with over a decade of working with small business owners. She is the creator of the ‘Go Self Employed’ website, where she simplifies complicated self-employment topics such as taxes, bookkeeping, banking and insurance.