HMRC are not the Grinch after all. They have recently announced that employers may arrange a “virtual” Christmas party this year and there will be no taxable benefit for employees provided that all staff are invited and the cost per head does not exceed the normal £150 limit.
Maybe keep it to a modest affair and let’s have a big bash when the Coronavirus pandemic is over as we are allowed more than one event a year within the £150 limit.
Christmas gifts of up to £50 for employees
Remember that certain gifts to staff at Christmas are also tax free if structured correctly. Employers are allowed to provide their directors and employees with certain “trivial” benefits in kind tax free.
This exemption applies to small gifts to staff at Christmas, on their birthday, or other occasions and includes gifts of food, wine, or store vouchers.
There are of course a number of conditions that need to be satisfied to qualify for the exemption.
Conditions for the exemption to apply:
the cost of providing the benefit does not exceed £50
the benefit is not cash or a cash voucher
the employee is not entitled to the benefit as part of any contractual obligation such as a salary sacrifice scheme
the benefit is not provided in recognition of particular services performed by the employee as part of their employment duties (or in anticipation of such services)
Gifts to charity
Where possible taxpayers should “Gift Aid” any payments to charity to provide additional benefit to the charity. Higher rate taxpayers obtain additional tax relief on the grossed up amount donated. For example, where an individual makes a £20 cash donation to charity the charity is able to reclaim a further £5 from HMRC making a gross gift of £25. Where the individual is a 40% higher rate taxpayer he or she is able to claim a further £5 tax relief under self-assessment, reducing the net cost of their donation to £15.
Note that the donor is required to make a declaration that they are a UK taxpayer and those that have not suffered sufficient UK tax to support the Gift Aid amount will taxed on the shortfall.
Remember that Gift Aid does not just apply to gifts of cash. Many charity shops will now sell donated items on your behalf and are able to treat the sale proceeds as Gift Aided donations. It is also possible to gift quoted securities and land and buildings to charity and claim Gift Aid on the market value of those assets.