Can I claim my gym membership as a tax deductible expense?

Wizard AccountantThis is a common question from many of our clients and the answer does depend slightly on whether you are a sole trader, partner in a partnership or you are employed.

The general rule for a business (so that is the sole trader, partnership or limited company) is that an expense should be “wholly and exclusively” for the purposes of the trade. If you apply this principle correctly tax relief will be denied on any expenses which have “duality of purpose”. So if there is both a personal benefit and a business benefit then HMRC will not allow you to deduct it as an expense. Gym membership is not for the benefit of a business even if you occasionally meet a business client there so in all normal situations tax relief is not available.

What if as part of your business you have to pass very strict medical certifications? So for example by concession, and this is on a case by case basis, HMRC have allowed a proportion of gym fees for North Sea Divers on a sliding scale depending on age.

But what if you are a personal trainer when your livelihood depends on being fit? Again strictly there is duality of purpose so HMRC will deny all tax relief however again by concession they may allow a small percentage dependent upon age but the younger you are the smaller the proportion allowed.

So what happens if your employer pays for your gym membership? In theory the employer is providing a benefit to the employee and therefore can claim a tax deduction BUT the employee is then taxed on the membership fees as a benefit in kind. So the company gets tax relief but the employee is taxed on the benefit in kind.

However you look at this, gym membership, for the vast majority of people will not be tax deductible.

Like all tax it is a complex area and we strongly recommend that you speak to your tax adviser before attempting to make claims like this.

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