Are the costs of eye tests and corrective glasses tax-deductible?

If you work through your own company, as many contractors do, you are an employee of the company.

But in order to answer the question of ‘Are the costs of eyes tests and corrective glasses tax deductible?’ it is necessary to consider the company’s position and your individual tax position, writes Graham Jenner of chartered accountant firm Jenner & Co.

It’s part of employing costs…

First and foremost, if a company pays for an employee’s eye test or glasses needed for work, then this is part of the cost of employing that person.

So it is tax deductible for the purposes of company’s corporation tax.

However, there may be a taxable benefit on the individual, depending on the circumstances.

HMRC’s website states the following, regarding “Eye Tests”:

“These are exempt (from tax) if they are required by health and safety legislation for employees who use a computer monitor or other screen.”

Over to the HSE

The Health and Safety legislation referred to states that an employer must arrange an eye test for display screen equipment (DSE) users -- if they ask for one. The employer has to pay for that test.

So, if you use display screen equipment within your work, then you, the employee, could as yourself (as the director, on behalf of the company) arrange for a test. The company then pays for that test, and it is not taxable on you as a benefit, while the company will obtain tax relief for corporation tax.

The tax position of glasses (or contact lenses)

In addition, HMRC’s website further states in relation to “Glasses or Contact Lenses:”

“These are exempt if you have to provide them for monitor or screen work.”

The phrase ‘have to’, presumably, also means under Health and Safety legislation.

On this point, the legislation requires the employer to provide glasses if an employee needs them only for DSE use.

Where things appear fairly impractical

Furthermore, guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states: “Employers only have to pay for glasses for DSE work if the test shows an employee needs special glasses prescribed for the distance the screen is viewed at. If an ordinary prescription is suitable, employers do not have to pay for glasses.”

The Health and Safety legislation appears to refer only to glasses and not to contact lenses.  Given the need for a special prescription for the distance the screen is viewed at, it seems fairly impractical for the employee to put contact lenses in while viewing the screen, and then take them out to, say, read a document or to view something more distant than the screen!

However, HMRC’s website does refer to ‘Glasses or Contact lenses’, indicating that, if the employer did pay for special contact lenses prescribed for the distance the screen is viewed at, then these, too, would be exempt.

Limited company paying for eye test or glasses/contact lenses in other circumstances

If the company pays for your eye test, when there isn’t a legal requirement under the Health and Safety legislation mentioned above, then the company would need to report this as a benefit, meaning that the employee will pay tax on it, and the employer will pay Employer’s National Insurance. Be aware, the same applies if the employer pays for glasses or contact lenses that are not a special prescription for the screen distance.

Wednesday 6th Apr 2022
Profile picture for user Graham Jenner

Written by Graham Jenner

Graham is a Chartered Accountant and has run his own accountancy practice, Jenner Accountants Ltd, for over 20 years and is the MD of Nopalaver Group, which provides Umbrella company and other services to contractors. He specialises in dealing with family run businesses and contractors, supported by a strong team including 5 qualified accountants.

Printer Friendly, PDF & Email