Claiming for the Cost of Eye Tests and Glasses as a Business Expense

Claiming for the cost of eye tests and glasses as a business expense is a handy way to reduce your tax bill. However, the HMRC rules surrounding what you can and can’t claim are very strict.

In this guide, you’ll find out whether you can claim for the cost of eye tests and glasses through your business. This is dependent on your UK business structure.

Updated 9 September 2021

1. Claiming for the Cost of Eye Tests and Glasses as a Business Expense

HMRC has ruled that, in line with Health and Safety regulations, workers using visual display unit (VDU) or display screen equipment (DSE), who meet strict requirements, may be entitled to claim for the costs of eye tests and glasses from their businesses and employers.

2. Claiming for Eye Tests and Glasses (Self-Employed)

If you are registered as self-employed, the cost of your eye test is not an allowable business expense. This is because there is no legal requirement to follow Health & Safety Regulations.

When it comes to the cost of your glasses or contact lenses, if you wear them outside of work, then it’s unlikely you can claim this cost against your taxes because they have a duality of purpose. It is also unlikely that HMRC would accept that they are wholly needed for business. Therefore, they are a disallowable expense for tax purposes. Of course, if you have them for purely work purposes and leave them at your desk. Only then, you may be able to argue they are a business expense and claim them when you fill in your tax return.

When it comes to claiming expenses, always use your judgement when it comes to deciding what you deduct against your taxes. Incorrect claims can result in penalties. And, as always, if you aren’t sure, seeks the advice of a professional.

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3. Claiming for Eye Tests and Glasses (Limited Company)

If you have a Limited Company, then the rules are different from those of the self-employed. That’s because your business is a separate entity so it must follow Health and Safety Regulations.

The cost of eye tests for Limited Company Directors and its employees are deemed an allowable business expense against corporation tax. This is when you or your team need to use a digital screen like a laptop. However, this is only applicable for one hour or more per day on a regular basis.

When it comes to the cost of glasses and contact lenses, again you need to consider any duality of purpose. In other words, if you wear glasses or contact lenses in your everyday life, it becomes more difficult to argue that the cost is business-related.

If the result of your eye test shows that you need a special prescription to use glasses or contact lenses for work reasons only, then the cost can be claimed as a business expense. However, in reality, this can be hard to prove. In this instance, you’ll need to leave your glasses at your desk/office. You’ll also have to have other pairs for things like driving, watch TV and so on.

If your glasses or contact lenses are for general use however, you will not be able to claim the full cost of the glasses.

Instead, you could choose to claim a portion relating to your business. This will result in that portion you claim as a business expense becoming a taxable benefit. As a result, you’ll need to complete P11d forms, paying Class 1a National Insurance.

If you have employees, then the same rules extend to them. But, it is not your responsibility to remind or arrange for your employees to take their eye test. The onus is fully on them to make the booking and claim back the cost of their eye test. This then becomes an allowable business expense.

Some employers opt to arrange eye tests with specific opticians so they can monitor the cost. Sometimes, even purchasing vouchers in advance that employees can use to help make the cost more reasonable.

An Employer may need to pay for glasses and contact lenses for their employee if it is shown that the glasses are needed for specific DSE and VDU. In these cases the employer is only obliged to pay for basic glasses frame and lenses. However, they don’t have to pay for expensive options.

If the employee wears glasses for personal reasons, the employer is not obliged to pay for glasses or contact lenses unless specifically prescribed for VDU and DSE reasons.

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About Anita Forrest

Anita Forrest is a Chartered Accountant, spreadsheet geek, money nerd and creator of www.goselfemployed.co - a website full of templates, guides and resources for UK sole traders. No faff. No confusion. Just simple straightforward advice on business registration, taxes and bookkeeping.