Tax experts welcome ‘trivial’ delay

Tax specialists have welcomed a government announcement that it is delaying legislation introducing an exemption from income tax for ‘trivial’ benefits in kind (BIKs).

Trivial benefits provided by employers include gifts such as a box of chocolates at Christmas or a bouquet of flowers for an employee who has had a baby or is absent from work through sickness.

Under the proposed legislation, which had been due to take effect from 6 April, small benefits of up to £50 would have been exempt from income tax, provided they were not made in recognition of services, part of a contractual obligation or made in conjunction with a salary sacrifice arrangement. However, the measure was dropped from the 2015 Finance Bill when it was published on 24 March.

The current rules will continue to apply, requiring employers to agree with HM Revenue & Customs which benefits they provide count as trivial.

The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) had called for a delay in implementing the exemption, arguing that more time was needed to allow guidance to be prepared and shared with employers.

ATT president Natalie Miller said: “The draft legislation would have made life for employers more complicated as it suggested a significant change in what should be considered a trivial benefit. We hope that the Revenue will use the time afforded by the postponement to reconsider the finer details of some aspects of the policy.”

Link: HMRC guidance on expenses and benefits