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Care is always required when employees are made redundant or payments are made on the termination of employment. Not only are there employment law considerations, but there are also important tax implications and this is an area where professional advice is strongly recommended to avoid unnecessary pitfalls. The tax treatment of these payments changed from 6 April 2018 and further changes come into effect in 2019.
Employers now need to pay Income Tax and Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) on an element of all termination payments from 6 April 2018, whether or not they are contractual payments. The element that is now chargeable to Income Tax and NICs is the amount of the termination payment that represents payment in lieu of notice (PILON), sometimes referred to as “garden leave”.
The first £30,000 of genuine ex-gratia continues to be exempt from income tax and national insurance. The £30,000 limit includes statutory redundancy payments. Payments in excess of £30,000 are taxed as employment but there is currently no NIC on such payments. It was originally proposed that employers’ NIC would be applied to such payments from 6 April 2018 but the delayed introduction of the National Insurance Contributions Bill means that employer NICs on termination payments above £30,000 will now take effect from 6 April 2019.
In addition, foreign service relief on termination payments was removed for all UK residents – apart from seafarers – from 6 April 2018. Previously, this provided a further exemption from income tax and NIC depending on the period of time working abroad.
UK residents whose employment ends after 6 April 2018 who receive a payment or benefit in connection with that termination made after 13 September 2017, will not now be eligible for tax relief for any period of foreign service as part of that job.