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Tax and making loans to employees

A reminder that making loans to your employees or their relatives can create tax problems for employees and employers. For example, the employer will have an obligation to report a beneficial loan to HMRC and the deemed benefit would be a taxable benefit in kind for the relevant employee. A beneficial loan is one that is interest free or the rate charged is below the “official rate” and the benefit is the difference between these interest rate charges. Further, the benefit would increase the employer’s Class 1A NIC bill at the end of the tax year.

Fortunately, certain loans are exempt from this reporting obligation. These may include loans employers provide:

• in the normal course of a domestic or family relationship as an individual (not as a company you control, even if you are the sole owner and employee),

• with a combined outstanding balance due from an employee of less than £10,000 throughout the whole tax year,

• to an employee for a fixed and never changing period, and at a fixed and constant rate that was equal to or higher than HMRC’s official interest rate when the loan was taken out – the official rate for 2017-18 is 2.5%,

• under identical terms and conditions as those provided to the public (this mostly applies to commercial lenders),

• that are ‘qualifying loans’, meaning all the interest qualifies for tax relief.

Loans written off also create a National Insurance Class 1 charge for the employee. They must be reported on a P11D and the employer has an obligation to deduct and pay Class 1 NIC from the employee’s salary, on the amount written off for tax purposes.

Calculating the taxable benefits for chargeable loans can be somewhat complex and readers are advised to take advice if they are unsure of their tax and NIC responsibilities. Don’t forget “employees” includes directors and loans to family members may be caught.