Why training is an investment in you

22 August, 2012 / Infocus

If you’re a dental nurse, you might feel you’re being unfairly treated by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over tax relief for your training. I thought it might be useful to provide a bit of context… as well as some practical suggestions about what you can do.

The issue is what constitutes continuing professional training and how HMRC regards the acquiring of new skills. The British Association of Dental Nurses has been lobbying HMRC over this issue because dental nurses are unhappy that the costs associated with continuing professional education may not qualify for tax relief. It’s especially ironic because participation in such activities is often compulsory and failure to take part may lead to you losing your professional qualifications… and even your job.

The campaign goes on for HMRC to reconsider the question of tax relief on mandatory CPD/CPE for Dental Care Professionals. What can you do in the short term? The current position is that tax relief is only available for expenses incurred “wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of the duties of employment”. There’s a dividing line drawn by the courts between preparation for performing duties of the employment, which may include attending educational courses, and actually performing those duties. Expenses of preparation are not deductible under Section 336 ITEPA 2003.

It’s well established that employees such as dental nurses, hospital doctors and others involved in healthcare are not entitled to a deduction for the expenses incurred in continuing professional education and there are numerous test cases to that effect, such as an NHS consultant who was refused relief for the expenses of CPE necessary to maintain her professional qualification and a specialist registrar who was refused relief for the expenses of taking professional examinations, even though it was a condition of his employment that he should do so.

Dental nurses face similar problems. Unless you are employed under a training contract, the costs of CPE may not qualify for tax relief. Whether employed or selfemployed, acquiring new skills has never been allowable – HMRC considers acquiring a new skill to be a capital investment. If you’re caught in this Catch 22 situation, my advice is… seek specialist advice! Accountants will look at things such as contracts of employment and the expenses incurred and may advise an appeal would be worthwhile. These are taxing times for dental nurses, but professional help is at hand and can make a big difference.

About the author

Tricia Halliday is a Partner at Martin Aitken & Co. Tricia is contactable atby telephone on 0141 272 0000, or you can find out more about Martin Aitken & Co by looking at its website http://www.maco.co.uk


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