What is Employment Allowance?

Monday September 28, 2015

Employment Allowance is a significant boost to small business employers. It's simpler than it looks, and it could be worth thousands to your business each year.

The map of every great RIFT adventurer's journey is littered with obscure and unexplored terrain features - but not all of them are robot crocodiles or venomous scorpion-centaurs. Once in a while, that near-invisible symbol etched in your charts is a valuable tip-off instead of a dire warning. The wise explorer knows how to spot an opportunity, and how to make the most of it. Employment Allowance is a perfect example of a treasure hidden half-buried in the sand. It can be a great boost to the businesses who notice it, but it's all too easy to pass by if you don't know what you're looking for.

It's deceptively simple in practice. If you're an employer, you can cut down the National Insurance contributions (NICs) you pay for your employees by a significant amount, and the scheme's been in effect since the 6thof April 2014. If your NIC bill is on the low side, this could actually mean you won't have to pay any contributions at all!

Employment Allowance is set to help out around 1.25 million of the businesses and charities who need it the most - over a third of which are going to end up with nothing to pay. It's going to be good news for many on their journey through the RIFT, so here are the nuts and bolts of the scheme to get you started.

  • Employers can claim up to £2,000 per year off their NI contributions.
  • The allowance kicks in every time you run your payroll until the £2,000 limit is hit or the tax year ends.
  • You can't claim for more than you've paid out, but if you're paying less than the £2,000 limit then you end up paying nothing.

In order to qualify for the allowance, you need to be either:

  • A business,
  • A charity, or
  • A community amateur sports club (yes, we know - weirdly specific)

In practice, this is going to cover pretty much all employers who pay Class 1 NICs, including those who employ care or support workers. Of course, as always, there are a couple of restrictions. For example, you can't claim if:

  • You're already claiming for another PAYE scheme.
  • You're part of a group and another company in it is already claiming.
  • You're employing someone for personal or domestic work - unless it's a support or care worker, as above.

Public bodies are shut out from Employment Allowance (unless they're charities), and there are a few other niggly little exemptions. We'll talk you through your eligibility and make sure you're not missing out.

As for how to claim, the good news is that it can all be done through your payroll software. Just tick "Yes" in the proper box when you send in your Employment Payment Summary and it's taken care of automatically. You can also do it via HMRC's Basic PAYE Tools if you're still inexplicably living in the Dark Ages before Clear Books.

Once you've made your claim, you won't have to do anything more in future unless you suddenly become ineligible (then it's time to start hunting down that "No" box instead). You can make your claim at any point in the tax year, but if you miss a deadline you'll have to either:

  • Ask HMRC to use your unclaimed allowance to pay any taxes or NICs you owe.
  • Ask for a refund if you don't owe anything.

Those are the basics. Employment Allowance is just one of the precious treasures waiting to be discovered out there, and we can do a lot more than circle them on your map for you. Get in touch with RIFT Accounting for more details - and keep your ears pricked for more Voices from the RIFT.

Call us on 01233 653006 today.

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