Most professional contractors spend a large proportion of their time behind computer screens. With this in mind, can you claim for the cost of an eye test from your limited company? And, what about the cost of corrective glasses?
As is the case of all business expenses, anything you claim back against your company’s Corporation Tax bill must have been incurred ‘wholly and exclusively’ for the purposes of the business.
In other words, where something has a duality of purpose, you can’t reclaim it, as you would have had to incur the cost anyway. For example, you can’t claim the cost of your personal broadband bill against the business, even if you’re working from home,
How does HMRC treat eye-related expenses?
According to S320A ITEPA 2003, an employer (your limited company in this case) can claim for the cost of an eyesight test, and any corrective glasses, provided that these two conditions are met:
- The eye test is required under Health and Safety at Work regulations.
- Corrective glasses are made generally available to all employees.
Clearly, if you regularly work with screens, your employer has an obligation to ensure that no harm comes to your eyesight, so claiming the cost of the test should be allowable.
You can see EIM21765 for the full requirements.
Corrective glasses / contact lenses – possible problems
A potential problem arises if you claim for the cost of corrective glasses as a business expense, due to the duality of purpose rules.
Strictly speaking, you can only claim for the cost of eyewear which will be used exclusively for work purposes, and not for more general reasons.
a) Glasses used solely for business reasons
So, if the corrective glasses are to be used solely for business reasons, you will be able to claim the cost as an allowable business expense. You would need the prescription to state that the glasses are needed specifically for screen-related activities.
b) Glasses for general use, with some prescribed VDU use
HMRC states that where glasses are purchased for general use but include a special prescription for ‘VDU use’, you will be able to claim for a proportion of the cost from your company.
c) Glasses for general use, no specific VDU prescription
However, if you claim for the cost of glasses without a specific special prescription for VDU use, then the cost will give rise to a taxable benefit – i.e. you will have to pay tax and NICs on the cost of the glasses.
The cost of an eye test should be allowable, although many opticians offer them for free. You may also be entitled to a free eye test, courtesy of the NHS – according to a wide variety of eligibility criteria.
As you can see, HMRC’s rules are strict, and you may find that it is impractical to claim the cost of corrective glasses from your company unless they are genuinely needed purely for your contract work.
If you do make a claim, make sure you keep all receipts, and prescriptions, just in case you need to prove the validity of any expenses in the future.