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Check out timely tax relief

Autumn is always taxing. By the time the trees have shed their leaves, it’s hard to avoid the realisation that summer has well and truly gone and winter is just around the corner.

Leaves changing colour provide a countdown. Each shift in hue signifies the nearing deadline; its almost time to store your summer clothes, put on the central heating, and make sure you have enough money to pay your annual subscriptions.

It may just be luck, or hark back to when our years followed an academic cycle, but it seems that each year this is the season to be invoiced, to be politely reminded of the rules that state ‘your membership will be suspended if you do not pay, in full, within the next 28 days’.

There are fees for the GMC, the BMA, royal college membership, a medical defence body, and various specialist societies. If only there was a way to cut down on these costs, without losing the benefits that they offer.

Well there is.

It turns out that these subscriptions, which are requirements for your role as a practicing doctor or the activities of the society are relevant to the employment, could be tax deductible.

I have to be clear here, I am a cardiology trainee, not a tax adviser, and the BMA is a professional association for medical, and not financial matters, therefore neither of us is qualified to offer tax advice to members. However, what the association can do is confirm the amount of money paid in subscription to the BMA. Those who are UK taxpayers and in UK employment may be eligible to claim tax relief on these subscription payments.

You should now be receiving your annual BMA membership pack through the post, and with it, there will be a form which you can use to write to your local tax office to request tax relief on your subscription payments. Not only that, but you can fill in the details of other eligible subscriptions in the space provided, and claim tax relief on those at the same time.

The amount of money that can be claimed back by an individual will depend on their own circumstances, and if there is any doubt, contact your local tax office and seek expert advice from an independent financial adviser. The list of approved organisations can be found online, as can the guidance from HMRC.

You can make retrospective claims for up to four years (currently to 2008/09), and once approved, the task should be easier in subsequent years. Replacement forms can be downloaded bma.org.uk/taxclaimform

For once, the clocks going back may not bring a feeling of gloom.