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Finance Act 2014

Part 2: employment income exemption

75.Paragraph 5 of Part 1 of the Schedule inserts new Chapter 10A to Part 4 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003, which contains the following provisions.

New Section 312A

76.New subsection (1) provides that the income tax exemption applies to qualifying bonus payments made in a tax year to employees or former employees of a company.

77.New subsection (2) sets the maximum amount of the qualifying bonus payment that is exempt from income tax (the “exempt amount”) at £3,600.

78.New subsection (3) provides that, where an employee receives a qualifying bonus from more than one employer in a tax year, the exempt amount in subsection (2) applies separately to the total payments made by each employer.

79.New subsection (4) provides an exception to subsection (3).  Where an employee or former employee receives a bonus from two or more employers who first make a bonus payment when they are part of the same group, the exempt amount applies to the total amount of the bonuses received from all employers in the group, instead of applying separately in relation to each employer.

80.New subsection (5) provides that where an employee has received a qualifying bonus from a company which was a member of a group of companies at the time it first made a payment for the year, that employer will be treated as remaining a member of the group until the end of that tax year even if it subsequently leaves the group.  This is relevant in determining if the aggregate of qualifying bonus payments received in a tax year from the group exceeds the exempt amount (see subsection (4) above).

81.New subsection (6) sets out how the exempt amount should be applied when more than one qualifying bonus is received in the same tax year by an employee.  It provides that the exempt amount should be applied to each bonus in the order they were made to determine if and when the exempt amount has been exceeded.

82.New subsection (7) explains how the exempt amount should be applied when two (or more) qualifying bonuses are made on the same day.  It provides that the exempt amount (or the unused amount of the exempt amount) should be shared equally between each of the payments received on the same day.

83.New subsection (8) provides that where a qualifying bonus is paid by different employers (who are not members of the same group) ordering rules in subsections (6) and (7) apply separately.

84.New subsection (9) provides an Order-making power enabling the Treasury to increase or reduce the exempt amount.  However, where the amount is to be reduced, new subsection (10) specifies that the draft statutory instrument must be laid before and approved by the House of Commons.

85.New subsection (11) defines the term “chargeable amount” as being the amount of the bonus payments that would have been taxable if not for the exemption. This term is referred to in subsection (2).

New Section 312B

86.New subsection (1) introduces all the conditions which must be met for a payment to be a qualifying bonus payment, and, where necessary, cross-references the sections in which detail of how those conditions apply is provided for.

87.New subsection (2) provides that the qualifying period is the 12 months ending with the day on which the payment is made.   However, new subsection (3) specifies two situations where the qualifying period may not be the full 12 months.  Paragraph (a) provides that the qualifying period does not include any days before the settlement first met the all-employee benefit requirement as defined in section 236J of TCGA 1992.  Paragraph (b) provides that the qualifying period does not include any days prior to the date when the settlement first met the controlling interest requirement provided for in section 236M of TCGA 1992.

88.The ‘office holder’ condition set out in subsection (1)(e) specifies that the condition must be met for “a requisite number of days”, which recognises that in some cases, for reasons beyond the employer’s control, the condition might not be met.  New subsection (4) defines this term as the number of days in the qualifying period less 90 days. Where the qualifying period is shorter than 12 months by virtue of new subsection (3) the requisite number of days is the number of days in the qualifying period, less the corresponding fraction of 90 days.

New Section 312C

89.New subsection (1) provides the detail of the participation and equality requirements which form one of the conditions set out in section 312B(1). For a bonus scheme to meet the participation requirement all persons in relevant employment must be eligible to be awarded a bonus under the scheme.  Paragraph (b) provides that to meet the equality requirement every employee who is awarded a bonus under the scheme must do so on the same terms. That does not mean they must necessarily be awarded the same amount.

90.New subsection (2) defines when a person is in “relevant employment”. This is when the person is employed by the company paying the bonus or where the company paying the bonus is a member of a group, the person is employed by any company which is a member of the group.

91.New subsection (3) sets out an exception to the participation requirement.  It permits employers to exclude employees from the bonus award if those employees have less than a specified minimum period of continuous service at the time of the award which can be no longer than 12 months.

92.New subsection (4) provides for further exceptions to the participation requirement in respect of employees subject to a finding of gross misconduct or summary dismissal.  Paragraph (a) provides that where a finding of gross misconduct has been made in the period 12 months immediately before the bonus is determined, the employee can be excluded from participating in the award.  Paragraph (b) allows the award of a bonus to be conditional if at the time it is determined the employee is subject to disciplinary proceedings, depending on the outcome.  Finally, paragraph (c) provides that if disciplinary proceedings initiated after determination of the award lead to a finding of gross misconduct before payment is made, or if the employee is summarily dismissed before payment is made, the employee is treated as if they were never eligible to participate.

93.New subsection (5) provides that only those factors set out in subsection (6) can be used to determine the amount of the award.  New subsection (6) provides that if these refer to the employee’s remuneration, length of service, or hours worked, the equality requirement will not be infringed.

94.New subsection (7) provides that the equality requirement is infringed if some of the participating employees receive nothing.

95.New subsection (8) provides that where the amount of a participating employee’s share of an award under the scheme is determined by reference to more than one of the factors mentioned in subsection (6) the equality requirement will not be satisfied unless each of those factors gives rise to a separate bonus amount and the employee’s total bonus is the sum of those separate amounts.  This means that the entitlements cannot be multiplied together or used in any other kind of mathematical formula.

96.New subsection (9) prevents the equality requirement from being met if any feature of the scheme has or is likely to have the effect of disproportionally rewarding directors or former directors, higher paid employees, employees from specific parts of the business, or employees carrying out specific types of activity.  This has to be read in conjunction with subsection (6), but is intended to prevent an employer from paying an extra amount of bonus in addition to whatever is determined through use of the allowable factors.

97.New subsection (10) provides that any references to an employee in subsections 1(b), (5), (6), (7) and (9) include a former employee and similarly references to remuneration and other factors in the case of former employees are to be read as relating to the former employment.

New Section 312D

98.New subsections (1) to (5) provide for the definition of ‘trading requirement’ and related terms, as referred to in section 312B(1).  This requirement must be met throughout the qualifying period (see 312B(1)).

New Section 312E

99.New subsection (1) provides that a company meets the indirect employee ownership requirement referred to in section 312B(1) if, throughout the qualifying period, the settlement meets the controlling interest requirement and the all-employee benefit requirement.

100.New subsection (2) provides the meaning of the controlling interest requirement and all-employee benefit requirement by reference to sections 236M, and 236J - 236K respectively.  These are both subject to the modification in subsection (3).

101.New subsection (3) provides that if a settlement does not meet the all-employee benefit requirement throughout the qualifying period, it is treated as meeting that requirement if the behaviour requirement section 236L of TCGA 1992 applies.  However, if the settlement has previously met the all-employee benefit requirement at any time since 10 December 2013, the settlement will not meet the behaviour requirement in section 236L.  This means that once a settlement has met the all-employee benefit requirement it must continue to do so in order for the income tax exemption for the bonus to apply.

102.New subsection (4) clarifies the context in which sections 236I to 236M TCGA 1992 are to be read for purposes of subsections (2) and (3). This provides that for the purposes of applying section 236L, it does not matter, if, because of another provision (section 312B(3)), the qualifying period is less than 12 months.

New Section 312F

103.New subsection (1) provides that a company meets the office holder requirement referred to in section 312B(1) if the appropriate fraction does not exceed two fifths.  New subsection (2) defines the appropriate fraction as the number of persons who are one or both of a director or office holder of the company or an employee of the company connected with a director or office holder, divided by the total number of employees of the company.

New Section 312G

104.One of the conditions of section 312B(1) for the exemption to apply is that the company must not be a service company.  New subsection (1) provides definitions of a ‘service company’ as either being a managed service company within section 61B or a company which meets Conditions A and B.

105.Conditions A and B are provided for in new subsections (2) and (3) respectively.  The company will be a service company if most of the business carried on by the company is the provision of the services of its employees and it meets the definition of a person (or persons) described in subsection (4) who is not a member of the same group as the company paying the bonus.

106.New subsection (4) specifies that the persons or companies referred to in subsection (3) are those who have previously had control over the company, have employed all or most of the employees of the company or the company’s group in the past, or a subsidiary of a company which has done so previously.

107.New subsection (5) provides that subsection (4) should be applied in a similar way in relation to partnerships.

108.New subsection (6) lists the three legislative provisions that apply for the purposes of interpreting specified terms used within this section.

New Section 312H

109.New subsections (1) and (2) provide that payments will be excluded if they are made in return for the employee (or former employee) giving up an amount of general earnings, specific employment income or other description of employment income.

New Section 312I

110.New subsections (1) and (2) define the words and phrases used in Chapter 10A by cross reference to other tax legislation.

111.New subsection (3) defines when a payment is made.

112.New subsection (4) provides that in the case where an employee has died, his or her personal representatives are still able to benefit from the exemption to the same extent (if at all) as if the employee had not died, as long as the payment is made within 12 months of the death.

113.New subsection (5) provides that the order-making power for Treasury to increase or reduce the exempt amount is not subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of the House of Commons.

114.New subsection (6) inserts the updated reference to ‘company (in Chapter 10A of Part 4)’, ‘ordinary share capital (in Chapter 10A of Part 4)’ and ‘trade (in Chapter 10A of Part 4)’ in Part 2 of Schedule 1.

115.New subsection  (7) provides the date from which the amendments made to ITEPA apply and the date from which qualifying bonus payments are eligible for the income tax exemption.

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