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Are you prepared for April's Travel & Subsistence legislation changes? We explore what the changes mean for you

On 6th April, changes in Travel and Subsistence (T&S) tax legislation for temporary workers are due to take effect. The changes follow the announcement in the Government’s Autumn statement, which claimed that the proliferation of avoided income tax and national insurance contributions totals around £400m per year.

But are you ready for the changes and what do they mean for you?

Last month, Rullion hosted a Travel and Subsistence event at Manchester United’s “Theatre of Dreams”, where we were pleased to welcome a number of our clients who joined us to find the answer to those questions, plus many more.

Following a welcome from Rullion MD, Philip Higgins, attendees listened to Paul Chamberlain who explained just what the T&S arrangements are about. Paul, Partner and Head of Employment & Pensions at Brabners LLP, clarified that currently:

  • Relief is available for travel in the performance of a worker’s duties or for travel between a worker’s home and a ‘temporary workplace’.
  • Intermediaries employ workers on an overarching contract on a single set of terms and conditions whilst they work in multiple locations for different engagers. The worker is treated as being in single continuing employment. The workplaces will often be temporary.
  • A worker employed in this manner is eligible for tax relief on their home to work travel and subsistence expenses that a direct employee cannot access.
  • Increasing numbers of workers are eligible for relief.
  • Use now exceeds the original intention of Parliament.
  • Market distortions and unintended tax advantages.


What do the changes entail?

Generally, home-to-work travel relief and subsistence is not available to any other worker. So, the changes proposed under the new legislation state that temporary workers will no longer be able to claim relief on any expenses incurred on an ordinary home-work commute, even when engaged through an employment intermediary.

Classifying an Employment Intermediary

Paul Chamberlain defined an employment intermediary as:

An entity- including a company, partnership or an individual which interposes itself between a worker and an engager, as part of an arrangement for the worker to provide services to the engager; and, substantially in the supply of labour services.

Supervision, direction and control

Importantly, to determine whether a worker is to be affected by the T&S changes, the supervision, direction or control of the individual will need to be clarified.

Paul explained that HMRC will consider the worker’s arrangements overall, including how work is carried out in practice. The Government states “it will not be sufficient for the terms of engagement to imply a lack of supervision.”

However, individuals classed as genuinely self-employed, i.e. Agency Workers and Contractors whose work is not supervised, directed or controlled, will still be able to claim travel and subsistence relief.

Who’s responsible?

Liability falls with employers, employment intermediaries and temporary workers.

The HMRC Summary of Responses (9 December 2015), stated the following in regards to liability:

“...the government believes the most pragmatic and proportionate approach to improving compliance is the option raised during consultation roundtable events. This option transfers, jointly and severally, any debt arising from the deliberate misapplication of the rules from the employment intermediary (the business employing the worker) to its director(s). The transfer of debt would only be applied where it could be shown that the employment intermediary had knowing failed to apply the rules correctly, when they had been told by the engager that relief on travel and subsistence should not be available.
In addition, a second transfer of liability will also be introduced, moving debt to another relevant party where they have provided a fraudulent document that misled the employment intermediary so that relief on travel and subsistence expenses was allowed.”

Your communication plan

Next at the seminar, Julian Ball, Legal Director at PayStream, spoke to us about what the future looked like for umbrella companies.

As with any change, communication and clear planning are key. With April nearing, your consultations with potentially affected contractors will be well underway, although Julian’s communication pointers, below, act as a useful checklist.

  • Historical – email to contractors and article on website re potential changes
  • Press/external – articles submitted to RI; PRISM releases; submissions to MPs
  • Next communication – plan for regular updates – put a calendar reminder in for an email/publication when the final legislation is to be published on 16th March
  • Partnership – need to understand Rullion and clients’ position so no conflicting messages


Considerations

Tom Hadley, Director of Policy and Professional Services Recruitment & Employment with REC was our final speaker who reminded us of some of the practical implications that should be considered:

  • Implications for different sectors - e.g. mobile workers such as district nurses, care workers, drivers – no T&S relief for journey from home to permanent workplace (and back) but relief is available for assignment to assignment journeys. (Question to HMRC: what about those workers who do not travel to a permanent workplace each morning but start (and finish) at a different location each day?).
  • With regards to liability, what is a fraudulent document? (Criminal intent versus misleading or simply wrong).
  • In complex supply chains, which employment intermediary can liability transfer to and what due diligence should the employment business do?
  • SDC not defined in legislation so we rely on guidance. We have asked for guidance to be improved and merged. We are submitting scenarios to HMRC.

Questions to the panel

Our keynote speakers, Paul, Julian and Tom then joined Andrew Moore, Associate at Eversheds LLP and Damien Houghton MBE, Founder & Owner of Danbro to form a Q&A panel.

Panelists Rullion Event

Rullion’s next events

For more industry insights, join us at one of our upcoming events:

TRAVEL & SUBSISTENCE - Our second event for clients on T&S is taking place in London on Thursday 17th March. If you are interested in attending this event, to be hosted at the Terrace Gallery within the Museum of London, contact Maddie Highet on 0203 201 1273 or at maddie.highet@rullion.co.uk.

HR DATA ANALYTICS - Our next North West event focuses on the use of data within recruitment. Aimed at Senior HR and Resourcing professionals, the event is a complimentary breakfast seminar and takes place on Thursday 17th March at the exclusive Mere Spa and Golf Resort in Knutsford. For more information, or to register, visit http://goo.gl/alGol2

We look forward to seeing you there.

Still more T&S queries?

Further information on Travel and Subsistence changes can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/travel-and-subsistence