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Self-employment is constantly evolving so it’s reasonable that ongoing learning and development would be part of running your own business. The good news is that some of these training costs might be eligible for tax relief so you can claim the expense against your tax bill. As ever, there are certain rules about what qualifies as an allowable training expense, so we’ll explain what you might be able to claim.

What kind of courses and training can I claim as an expense?

The rules around claiming expenses for training courses are fairly restrictive, so you won’t be able to claim for everything that takes your fancy.

The general rule for training expenses is that they relate to and support your existing business.

This means a claim for training expenses is only allowable if the course or learning relates to a business which you already run, but it doesn’t include taking that business in a brand new direction or for a business which you haven’t started yet.

According to HMRC, your training course might be an allowable expense if it’s designed to help you:

  • Improve the existing skills and knowledge you already use in your business. For example, a wedding photographer who takes a refresher course on using photo editing software to update their existing skills.
  • Stay current with the technology used in your industry. For instance, someone who installs gas boilers undertaking training to fit heat pump systems because these are a new technology offered as a replacement to gas boilers.
  • Learn new skills so you can keep up with changes in your industry. HMRC use the example of a website designer who goes on a course to learn about using AI functionality in the websites they build.
  • Develop new skills and knowledge to support your business. For example, a plumber who goes on a bookkeeping course to help them manage their business admin, or a market trader who goes on a training session to learn more about ecommerce and online marketplaces so they can increase their sales.


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What training expenses can’t I claim for?

You might decide to go on all sorts of courses and training sessions, but you wont be able to claim them as a business expense if they’re totally unrelated to the industry you work in, or if you’re planning to use your new skills to start a new business.

Even if the course relates to your industry, it only counts as an allowable training expense if it supports the current aims of your business.

HMRC give the example of someone who sells sports clothing enrolling on a sports science degree. The nature of their course might be related to the sports sector they work in, but it won’t help them to sell more sportswear so they won’t be able to claim.

Are there any restrictions on who provides the training?

Not as such, but if HMRC ask to see some receipts and it turns out your mate Barry delivered the training in the pub one night, you’re probably going to end up in trouble.

Beyond that, training can be delivered online, in-person, or as part of a distance-learning programme, and might be delivered by a registered body, or as part of a webinar hosted by others in the industry.

Are there additional costs I can claim for too?

Again, this depends! For example, if you made a journey outside of your normal travel so you could attend the course, you might also be able to claim your travel costs, or your food and drink expenses.

Learn more about our online accounting services for businesses. Call 020 3355 4047 to chat to the team, and get an instant online quote.

About The Author

Elizabeth Hughes

A content writer specialising in business, finance, software, and beyond. I'm a wordsmith with a penchant for puns and making complex subjects accessible. Learn more about Elizabeth.

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