News and Updates

Autumn Statement 2016

Following Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement released on 23 November 2016, we have extracted those sections from his statement which are relevant to the employer/worker relationship, for ease of reference:
 
(4.10) Termination payments – As announced at Budget 2016, from April 2018 termination payments over £30,000, which are subject to income tax, will also be subject to employer NICs. Following a technical consultation, tax will only be applied to the equivalent of an employee’s basic pay if their notice is not worked, making it simpler to apply the new rules. The government will monitor this change and address any further manipulation. The first £30,000 of a termination payment will remain exempt from income tax and National Insurance.
 
(4.11) Off-payroll working rules – Following consultation, the government will reform the off payroll working rules in the public sector from April 2017 by moving responsibility for operating them, and paying the correct tax, to the body paying the worker’s company. The government believes public sector bodies have a duty to ensure that those who work for them pay the right amount of tax. This reform will help to tackle the high levels of non-compliance with the current rules and means that those working in a similar way to employees in the public sector will pay the same taxes as employees. In response to feedback during the consultation, the 5% tax-free allowance will be removed for those working in the public sector, reflecting the fact that workers no longer bear the administrative burden of deciding whether the rules apply. 
 
(4.12) Legal support – From April 2017, all employees called to give evidence in court will no longer need to pay tax on legal support from their employer. This will help support all employees and ensure fairness in the tax system, as currently only those requiring legal support because of allegations against them can use the tax relief.
 
(4.13) The taxation of different forms of remuneration – Employers can choose to remunerate their employees in a range of different ways in addition to a cash salary. The tax system treats these different forms of remuneration inconsistently and sometimes more generously. The government will therefore consider how the system could be made fairer between workers carrying out the same work under different arrangements and will look specifically at how the taxation of benefits in kind and expenses could be made fairer and more coherent. The government will take the following action:
 
  • Salary sacrifice – following consultation, the tax and employer National Insurance advantages of salary sacrifice schemes will be removed from April 2017, except for arrangements relating to pensions (including advice), childcare, Cycle to Work and ultralow emission cars. This will mean that employees swapping salary for benefits will pay the same tax as the vast majority of individuals who buy them out of their post-tax income. Arrangements in place before April 2017 will be protected until April 2018, and arrangements for cars, accommodation and school fees will be protected until April 2021.
  • Valuation of benefits in kind – the government will consider how benefits in kind are valued for tax purposes, publishing a consultation on employer-provided living accommodation and a call for evidence on the valuation of all other benefits in kind at Budget 2017.
  • Employee business expenses – the government will publish a call for evidence at Budget 2017 on the use of the income tax relief for employees’ business expenses, including those that are not reimbursed by their employer
(4.31) Employee Shareholder Status (ESS) – The tax advantages linked to shares awarded under ESS will be abolished for arrangements entered into on, or after, 1 December 2016. The status itself will be closed to new arrangements at the next legislative opportunity. This is in response to evidence suggesting that the status is primarily being used for tax planning instead of supporting a more flexible workforce.
 
(4.46) Disguised remuneration schemes – Budget 2016 announced changes to tackle use of disguised remuneration schemes by employers and employees. The government will now extend the scope of these changes to tackle the use of disguised remuneration avoidance schemes by the self-employed. This will ensure that self-employed users of these schemes pay their fair share of tax and National Insurance. 
 
(4.47) Further, the government will take steps to make it less attractive for employers to use disguised remuneration avoidance schemes, by denying tax relief for an employer’s contributions to disguised remuneration schemes unless tax and National Insurance are paid within a specified period. 
 
(4.48) Strengthening tax avoidance sanctions and deterrents – As signalled at Budget 2016, to provide a strong deterrent to those enabling tax avoidance, the government will introduce a new penalty for any person who has enabled another person or business to use a tax avoidance arrangement that is later defeated by HMRC. This new regime will reflect an extensive consultation and input from stakeholders and details will be published in draft legislation shortly. The government will also remove the defence of having relied on non-independent advice as taking ‘reasonable care’ when considering penalties for any person or business that uses such arrangements.
 
The full statement can be accessed here.
 

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