Self-employed training costs

If you're self-employed whilst the rules over what you can and can't claim are quite specific, in reality these can quite often cause confusion.  So exactly what self-employed training costs can you claim?  As a basic rule, you can use the following guidelines:

  • Training to keep your current skills updated - allowable
  • Training to acquire new skills - not allowable
Self-employed training costs


if you're self-employed and you undertake training to keep your current skills updated then any such training costs will be allowable.  This also applies if the training is required to maintain membership of a professional body.

So,for example, John is a self-employed dentist.  He goes on a training course to learn the latest techniques.  The course costs £2,000.  John can claim this training cost as a deduction when calculating his taxable business profits.

However if you undertake training to acquire a new skill then this will not be allowable.

So using the example above, let's suppose John, our self-employed dentist, incurs £2,000 training costs learning how to give botox injections.  Because this is a new skill  John can't claim this training cost as a deduction when calculating his taxable business profits.

So why the difference?

Well, in HMRC's view any self-employed training costs which enable you to acquire a new skill are actually creating an intangible asset - an asset which is long-lasting and only benefits the individual and not the existing trade.  Effectively any such self-employed training costs enable you to carry out your trade rather than enhancing your ability to run your current trade.

Let's look at another example.  Ruth is a trainee doctor.  She can't claim the cost of her degree course required to become a doctor.  However, once she becomes a self-employed locum, any training costs she incurs as part of her 'continuing professional development' would be allowable. 

If the training costs are allowable, then any associated costs (eg travel, books etc) will also be allowable.

And conversely, if the training costs not are allowable, then any associated costs (eg travel, books etc) will also not be allowable.

So if you're thinking about starting up a new self-employed trade (for example as a fitness instructor), consider whether you can start that trade before undertaking any training - you may then find that any training costs you incur can be deducted for tax as they are updating an existing skill.  However make sure you're not breaking any legal requirements for your chosen field!

Our eBooks cover this and many other topics.  Check them out here.

And if you'd like to know how we can help you with all of this, or with anything else, feel free to give us a call on 01202 048696 or email us at [email protected].


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