Swapping salary for pension benefits
Employers and employees may have noticed that HMRC has clamped down on the tax and NIC benefits of some aspects of salary sacrifice schemes. The changes are being rolled out gradually from April 2017, and will affect a number of employees who have sacrificed part of their salary for benefits and are currently paying less tax and NIC as a result.
For the time being, all arrangements in place before April 2017 will be protected for up to a year, and arrangements in place before April 2017 for cars, accommodation and school fees will be protected for up to 4 years.
There are a number of exclusions to these measures. One of the most valuable is for employer contributions into registered pension schemes. This is a common form of salary sacrifice where employees agree to reduce their salary in return for their employer paying into a registered pension scheme on their behalf.
As the employee is effectively taking home less salary there are Income Tax and NIC savings for them and possibly for their employer. However, there can be unforeseen impacts, such as the effect of lower earnings for mortgage application purposes.
Planning notes: The NIC savings are less for employees who earn over £45,000 per year (the 2017-18 upper earnings limit for Class 1 NIC) as their liability to NICs drops from 12% to 2%. However, there can be further Income Tax savings (for example, when salary is reduced below £100,000 thus avoiding the gradual loss of a personal tax allowance).
Due to these and other unfolding changes to salary sacrifice arrangements, we suggest a rethink. Please call to arrange a planning session if you are affected by these issues.