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Purchasing Staff Presents At Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching, I want to reward my employees for their hard work throughout the year. I know if I pay them a bonus I will need to account for income tax and national insurance through the PAYE scheme, but I actually want to purchase my staff presents rather than give cash. Do I still need to account for tax and national insurance on this and if so, could I settle the liability on their behalf?

If you make a voluntary agreement with the Inspector of Taxes, you can arrange to settle the tax and National Insurance on gifts purchased for your staff on their behalf.  Known as a PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA), this is often a much cheaper and simpler way of giving employees gifts.  Once you have a signed agreement in place for a tax year, you do not have to provide details of the gifts, but instead pay Class 1B National Insurance on the value of those gifts and meet the tax liability on the total amount. 

Without a PSA, your employees will be taxed on their gifts.  Tax will be charged based on the value of the gift as it is classed as a P11D benefit in kind. If you give staff vouchers that can be exchanged for goods or services, you will have to pay both employees' and employers' Class 1 National Insurance (11% and 12.8% respectively) through the monthly payroll.  If you provide goods such as a Christmas hamper, you pay Class 1A National Insurance (12.8%) in April next year on the market value of the gifts made.

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