Claiming for Body Work

This Content Was Last Updated on April 5, 2023 by Jessica Garbett


Claiming for Body Work

A common question is whether expenses like acupuncture, physiotherapy, massage, osteopathy or chiropractic expenses can be claimed by Yoga teachers?

Well, its not clear.  HMRC frontline staff would probably say “no”, as would some accountants.

However that isn’t necessarily definitive, so lets go back to first principles.


First Principles

To be allowed for tax an expense must be “wholly and exclusively” for business per Mallalieu v Drummond

It is credible to say that teaching a number of yoga classes a week stresses your body, especially the curse of demonstration without full warm up, asymmetric practice during demonstration, and awkward adjustments – to this end massage, osteopathy or chiropractic expenses could be deductible.

However if there are other non yoga aggravating factors in your life and affecting your need for therapeutic input, e.g. you are a runner as a hobby, or do a lot of non yoga sports/physical work, then that may play against a claim.


What Does HMRC Say?

The only official guidance comes in an oblique reference in HMRCs Business Income Manual to Expenses for Athletes.

Here examples of allowable and non allowable expenses are given based on decided tribunal cases – and its not just athletes covered here as a professional stunt man is also cited – and HMRC conclude “where any personal benefit is marginal may be deductible” and “Whether an expense is ultimately deductible will remain dependent on the specific facts of each case”.  Bear in mind this publication is for HMRC officers and although factual probably errs on the side of being conservative.

Any dispute, if not agreed with HMRC has to be settled by the Tax Tribunal (part of the court service).  The Tribunals have allowed some claims, but rejected others – of course they see cases from a broad spectrum of industries and we are not aware of any specific cases from Yoga or Mind / Body sector.


Self Assessment – Its Your Decision

Ultimately it’s your decision how you Self Assess and you have to be able to defend the view taken if challenged  – that’s the rationale of “Self Assessment”.

Deductibility will thus depend on:

  • The specific facts of your expenses claim
  • How closely the claim aligns to your professional work
  • How persuasively the case is argued if there is a challenge

It is worth recording the reasons why you needed a particular treatment, eg the causes of injury or aggravation.

We would also advise against egregious claims, and suggest a common sense and cautious approach.


Private Medical Treatment and Insurance

Medical treatment and private medical insurance is not normally tax deductible, eg

  • Private Surgery even if it is a quicker route to treatment
  • Medical Insurance even if on the grounds it would get you treated and back to work quicker