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Tax-free Christmas parties

Newsletter issue - December 2019.

Whilst the tax legislation does not include a specific allowance for an employer providing a Christmas party for employees, HMRC do allow limited tax relief against the cost of holding a social function for employees, providing certain conditions are met.

Broadly, a social event - which of course, includes the annual Christmas party - will qualify as a tax-free benefit if the following conditions are satisfied:

  • The total cost must not exceed £150 per head, per year;
  • The event must be primarily for entertaining staff; and
  • The event must be open to employees generally, or to those at a particular location, if the employer has numerous branches or departments.

The 'cost per head' of an event is the total cost (including VAT) of providing:

a) the event, and

b) any transport or accommodation incidentally provided for persons attending it (whether or not they are the employer's employees),

divided by the number of those persons.

Provided the £150 limit is not exceeded, any number of parties or events may be held during the tax year, for example, there could be three parties held at various times, each costing £50 per head.

Note however, that the £150 is a limit, not an allowance - if the limit is exceeded by just £1, the whole amount must be reported to HMRC.

The £150 exemption is mirrored for Class 1 NIC purposes, (so that if the limit is not exceeded, no liability arises for the employees), but Class 1B NICs at the current rate of 13.8%, will be payable by the employer on benefits-in-kind which are subject to a PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA).

If there are two parties, for example, where the combined cost of each exceeds £150, the £150 limit is offset against the most expensive one, leaving the other one as a fully taxable benefit.

For the employer, the cost of staff events is tax deductible for the business. Specifically, the legislation includes a let-out clause, which means that entertaining staff is not treated for tax in the same way as customer entertaining. The expenses will be shown separately in the business accounts - usually as 'staff welfare' costs or similar.

There is no monetary limit on the amount that an employer can spend on an annual function. If a staff party costs more than £150 per head (see below regarding this threshold), the cost will still be an allowable deduction, but the employees will have a liability to pay tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) arising on the benefit-in-kind.

The employer may agree to settle any tax charge arising on behalf of the employees. This may be done using a HMRC PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA), which means that the benefits do not need to be taxed under PAYE, or included on the employees' forms P11D. The employer's tax liability under the PSA must be paid to HMRC by 19 October following the end of the tax year to which the payment relates.

The full cost of staff parties and/or events will be disallowed for tax if it is found that the entertainment of staff is in fact incidental to that of entertaining customers.

VAT-registered businesses can claim back input VAT on the costs, but this may be restricted where this includes entertaining customers.

Addlestone Office

Tax-free Christmas parties

Andrew has been working in accountancy practices since leaving school at 16 and has over 30 years of experience dealing with all aspects of small and medium size businesses, personal and corporate tax issues.

He has been a partner since 1995 and has a wide and varied general practice background.

Andrew has extensive knowledge of many areas of business, accountancy and tax and is able to draw on his experience and knowledge to give clients comprehensive advice on a wide range of matters.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Keith joined Turner Hampton in May 2001, as tax partner. He qualified with a medium sized provincial firm in 1994 before moving to the City to join a top six firm where he specialised in multi-national partnership tax.

He has a wealth of experience in dealing with small owner managed businesses through to larger national organisations and those with interests abroad.

Keith, currently oversees the personal tax and corporation tax compliance and planning strategies of taxation for our clients.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Marc joined the accountancy profession in 2006 and trained with a top 50 firm before qualifying in 2010. Marc joined Turner Hampton in the same year because he was excited about the challenge of taking on a more hands-on role with clients.

Marc’s focus is on helping individuals with their businesses – from sole trades to large corporates – and guiding them through the red tape that often comes with accounting. Marc enjoys helping clients spot opportunities that can contribute to their businesses being successful, and assisting them with the real nitty-gritty, without losing the overview. Marc gets the biggest pleasure from his work when he is able to help clients save money or achieve something they may be striving towards.

Outside of work, Marc enjoys watching and playing all sports, listening to music, going to concerts and eating out.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Vaughn is an ACCA & AAT qualified accountant, Vaughn joined CSL in 2016 and believes his 17 years of experience has allowed him to gain a vast knowledge in dealing with all aspects of small businesses, personal tax and corporate tax issues.

Vaughn is a strong believer in building good client relationships. He feels that by understanding the specific needs of each client, he is able to offer more sound and efficient tax advice.

Outside of work Vaughn is a keen sportsman. If he isn’t enjoying time with his family, he can often be found walking many of Surrey’s local golf course fairways or attending sporting events.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Melanie joined CSL Partnership in April 2017 as a senior accountant. She is ACCA qualified with over 10 years experience working within practice. Melanie works with a wide range of clients and provides advice to owner-managed businesses and personal tax clients on accountancy and taxation matters.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Cindy joined CSL Partnership in 2007. She is an ACA qualified accountant with over 20 years of accountancy experience working within both practice and business.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Colin has worked in the accountancy profession for over 35 years during which he has gained a great deal of experience working on a diverse range of small and medium sized businesses along with sole trades and partnerships.

His areas of expertise lay within accounting, auditing, personal and business tax matters.

He is passionate about the role which small and medium sized businesses play in today’s market and how the accountancy profession can best serve their needs.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Carole has been a bookkeeper and payroll clerk for over 25 years and is qualified by experience. She has recently become involved in the process of auto enrolment for pensions. Over the years she has been self-employed but more recently employed in accountancy practices around the area.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Karen joined the practice in early 2019 as our Administrator/Receptionist and brings 15 years previous experience to the role. She ensures the office runs smoothly and efficiently providing back up and resources to the professional staff allowing them to focus on client matters. Karen is a very cheerful individual and always happy to help. In her spare time Karen enjoys spending time with her family.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Martin joined CSL Partnership in November 2019 returning to practice after spending the previous 8 years working in Industry. He is an AAT qualified accountant and has spent over 20 years working in the profession.

Martin works on all manner of clients from sole traders to large limited companies. He is an avid user of new software and technology to improve how he and clients work together and will always look to find a way to make life simpler for the client so they can focus on running the business rather than stressing over the accounts.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Ian joined Turner Hampton in 2016 and has worked in the accountancy profession for over 30 years.


Woking Office

Tax-free Christmas parties

Emma has worked in accountancy practices for over 20 years and qualified as a Chartered Certified Accountant in 2000. She has gained experience in all aspects of the accounting and auditing functions, developing exposure to a broad range of clients.

Emma advises owner-managed businesses and personal tax clients on accountancy and taxation matters. She has a particular expertise on systems review and implementation.

She has worked for CSL Partnership since it formed in 2001, becoming a director in 2005 and now manages the Woking office.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Philip has worked in various accountancy practices since the age of 19 and joined CSL Partnership in 1998 where he qualified in 2008.

He works with individuals, sole traders and limited company businesses to assist them with all their accounting and taxation requirements.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Andy has worked in accountancy since 2010 and joined CSL Partnership in April 2018. He has experience in a wide range of sectors, and has enjoyed working with individuals, sole traders and limited companies of varying sizes and needs. Outside of the office, you’ll find Andy on a hockey pitch or listening to music.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Lesley joined Turner Hampton in 2003, having previously worked both in accounts departments and in practice. She has been running client payrolls since joining the company and has gained many years of experience in payroll. Lesley now processes all aspects of payroll for both Turner Hampton and CSL Partnership clients.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Gail joined the firm in May 2018 and has worked in accountancy practices as a bookkeeper and payroll clerk since 2013. Historically, Gail has been self-employed and worked for companies in the financial and customer service sectors.

She is a full member of AAT. When not working, she enjoys hiking, mountain biking and yoga.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Marrieclaire is a bookkeeper, she processes payroll and maintains the accounting records to prepare VAT Returns and CIS Returns. Marrieclaire is a qualified Chartered Management Accountant with varied industry experience.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Elaine joined in June 2017. Prior to this she worked in a number of different industries including fast moving consumer goods and mechanical & electrical consultants.

She is a fellow member of AAT having completed the qualification in 1997.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Natasha joined CSL Partnership in October 2019, having worked in accountancy since 2017. Natasha has experience completing payrolls, bookkeeping, VAT returns & CIS returns. She is currently a trainee accountant, looking to become qualified in the coming years.


Tax-free Christmas parties

Wendy joined CSL in April 2019 as a Part-Time receptionist and administrator after 25 years working as an office manager in the design world. She is more than happy meeting and greeting clients and working with such a great team of people in the Woking Office. In her spare time Wendy enjoys tennis, yoga and pilates.


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