Dealing with the HMRC and sorting out your tax isn’t always the easiest of jobs to tackle. It can be a complicated and time consuming business. So we’ve asked RIFT, The UK’s leading tax refund experts, to give you the advice you need to claim back what your owed. You might not even realise you are entitled to a tax rebate – and it could add up to hundreds of pounds in your pocket.

Cash back from the taxman

When you drill right down into it, working offshore’s just like any other job. Okay, so maybe your load might be heavier than most.  Most people probably aren’t working challenging 12-hour shifts in conditions that make a modern prison cell look like a hotel room, for instance. Even so, you’ve got the same rights as any other UK worker – and that includes getting tax refunds for your work travel.

Travel tax relief: the rules

The legislation around tax refunds can be complicated. HMRC will never try to cheat you out of your money, but they don’t make it easy to get back what you’re owed, either. The law says that you can claim a refund when you’re paying for essential travel to temporary workplaces. That means any place you’re working for under 24 months.

Travel costs aren’t limited to just your train fare or fuel costs, either. Spending a night in a hotel while waiting for the helicopter flight out to your rig? Buying meals while you’re on the road? All these expenses can count toward your tax refund, so it’s worth keeping track of what it’s costing you to get to work.

It’s not just travel costs, either

The costs of doing your job involve a lot more than just shipping out to your rig, of course. If you’re shelling out to replace, clean or repair your work clothes, protective gear or tools, you can claim tax back. Other things you can claim for depend on your job and circumstances, but some licences and subscriptions to professional bodies count. As a general rule, if it’s a vital cost of doing your job, it could qualify for tax relief.

Getting help  with costs from your employer?

Obviously, you can only base your tax refund claim on the costs you’re paying out yourself. For travel, the government has set out some approved rates for reimbursement. If you aren’t getting the full amount back from your employer, you could still make up the difference with a tax refund claim.

Confused about the Seafarer’s Earnings Deduction?

A lot of people get travel tax refunds mixed up with the Seafarer’s Earnings Deduction. They’re actually completely different areas of legislation. SED is specific to people working mostly or entirely aboard a ship. In most cases, that doesn’t include offshore workers. As a result, there’s been some bad advice floating around the industry and people have been missing out. The same goes for tax foreign earnings tax relief. Again, that’s a whole separate issue, with no connection to the kinds of refund we’re talking about.

So, despite what you might have heard, offshore workers are completely entitled to normal travel tax refunds, just like any other kind of worker. As long as you stick to the rules, there’s no need to worry about getting on the wrong side of HMRC.

Tax refunds in real terms

You can claim back tax for up to 4 tax years, which adds up to an average refund of several thousands for most offshore workers due to the amount of travel involved. That’s a serious chunk of change to put toward a well earned getaway or a new car for all the miles you’re clocking up.

RIFT – The UK’s leading tax refund experts since 1999