For those who are self-employed, expenses can be a great way to reduce your taxable income. Usually, these expenses are for physical items, but what if the expense is for your physical health? Surely getting cured quickly and returning to work is allowable?
Well, it’s complicated. The answer can be confusing, so we wanted to simplify it for you. By the end, you should have a clear idea of whether or not you can claim. Let’s take a look.
Are Physiotherapy Expenses Tax Deductible?
The answer to this, annoyingly, is maybe. For some people that are self-employed, they can get their physiotherapy written off as an expense, but for most people, they can’t. The reason is that you need to prove that the physio was “wholly and exclusively” for the benefit of your business.
If you can prove that, then you can most likely claim it as expenses. However, most people aren’t able to prove it was required solely for the running of their business. Next, we’ll look at the answer in a little more detail so you can see if you’ll have a valid claim.
What Counts as a Business Expense?
In the UK, businesses may include a range of expenses as deductions when calculating their taxable profits. These costs must be related to running the business and generating income.
This can span from necessary equipment and services, such as computers and office furniture, to costs incurred through employee salaries and marketing activities.
Additionally, some travel expenses, business insurance premiums, legal fees, and property tax costs may also be eligible for deduction in specific circumstances.
The key factor is that there shouldn’t be a “duality of purpose,” which means the expense needs to be for your business. For example, a work laptop can be claimed on expenses, but a personal one cannot.
Business owners should ensure they keep detailed records of all their expenditures and consult their accountant if there is any uncertainty over what qualifies as an allowable expense before filing a company’s yearly returns.
So, Can Physiotherapy be a Business Expense?
There was a famous case called Parsons v HMRC when a stuntman successfully argued that he needed surgery and physiotherapy in order to get back to work quickly. He was on the NHS waiting list but argued that the waiting time was too long and he could get back to work sooner with private treatment.
This shows that it can be done, but it is rare. It’s very difficult to argue that your physiotherapy won’t have a personal gain, because it always will.
Let’s have an example of a writer who has chronic knee pain. That knee pain may be affecting their concentration and ability to focus at work. But having treatment on it would be mostly a personal benefit, and therefore this expense claim would be very unlikely to be granted.
If you’re considering making a claim, then your job will need to make use of the body part that’s hurting you beyond what can be expected from the average human. For example, a roofer cannot do their job if they have lost mobility in their shoulder.
Having physiotherapy would still be a personal benefit, but that benefit is an unavoidable by-product of getting their shoulder issues sorted. It’s obvious in this situation that the person could not do their job properly until their shoulder has healed.
They would also need to prove that private treatment was required. For example, if you’re on an eight-week waiting list for physio, you can argue that paying privately allowed you to get back to work much sooner.
A good way to think about it is from the HMRC’s point of view. They want your income, so what’s the best way to do that?
Scenario 1: You cannot work for three months and therefore are earning zero taxable income
Scenario 2: You write off your physiotherapy as a business expense and are able to start earning again straight away.
Scenario 3: You’re able to get free treatment quickly and get back to work
The HMRC will always hope for scenario 3, but you need to prove that it’s not possible, usually due to long waiting times. If so, the HMRC should be happy with scenario 2 if that means that your overall taxable income will increase.
The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to claim physiotherapy expenses unless you have a very good reason to do so. You need to prove that the expense was vital to your business operations and that any personal benefit was unavoidable.
Even then, the HMRC may be difficult. For example, a musician may be denied an expense claim if they also play that instrument for pleasure. Trying to argue against the “duality of purpose” rule is hard, and it can seem very unfair.
What Should I Do?
If you’re in pain, then it makes sense to see a physio, especially if it’s affecting your work. Not taking expenses into account, paying for physiotherapy will not only give you a better quality of life but will allow you to get back to work quicker.
Once you’ve had your physiotherapy sessions, then it’s always worth trying to claim it as an expense at a later date. If you can, then great! But if you can’t, then you’d have still been able to return to work without pain.
If you have an accountant, then it’s worth having a conversation with them about it to see if it’s worth the effort. If you complete your own taxes, then make sure you have the evidence to present your case to the HMRC.
Are physiotherapy expenses tax deductible? For the vast majority of people, the answer will be no. However, if curing your ailment would allow you to get back to work and start earning money again with minimal personal benefit, then you have a chance.
The system can seem a little unfair, especially for those whose work is affected by their pain but can’t argue against the duality of purpose. If you think you may have a valid claim, then it’s always worth asking the question.