The tax rules of Christmas gifts and celebrations

At the end of the year, it is great to be able to treat your clients and staff with some festive Christmas treats. But even though its Christmas HMRC still have rules which are applied to giving gifts.  Here we clarify the essential information on the tax rules of Christmas gifts and celebrations. We have detailed below how gifts can be given and the tax implications so you can remain compliant and not get a nasty surprise in your Christmas Stocking!

Christmas Cards

You can send Christmas Cards as a tax-deductible expense. Many companies do not send cards in favour of donating to a charity. Your limited company can pay less Corporation Tax when it gives money to a charity or community amateur sports club (CASC). Deduct the value of the donations from your total business profits before you pay tax. Find more information here on donating to charity.

A £50 gift to yourself and your staff!

If you are a Limited company, then you can give yourself a gift at Christmas as the company is giving the gift and not you! You can also give gifts to your employees. The limit is £50. This counts as a trivial benefit exemption so no Tax or NI is payable. But this does not apply to cash – so it must a gift. Non-cash vouchers up to £50 may be exempt under the trivial benefit rules. Where the voucher exceeds £50, you will need to report these on a P11D form to HMRC.  So, a couple of bottles of wine and some chocolates would count as a trivial benefit. Unfortunately, gifts to employees are not a tax-deductible expense for the business.

If you spend more than £50

Buying a gift that costs more than £50 (and this includes delivery charges) will count as a taxable perk for the employees that receive it. They will then have to pay tax and you as the employer will have to pay National Insurance. For example, if you were to give a £60 gift it will cost you a total of £85 because of the tax and NI due.

The gifts must carry a clear advertisement for the business (e.g. with branding or logo) which must be on the gift itself, not just the wrapping. They can’t be alcohol, food, drink, tobacco (unless they are your business) or vouchers. Non-promotional gifts and larger gifts are classed as entertaining and are not tax-deductible as an expense.

VAT and gifts

If you are not using the Flat Rate Scheme you are able to reclaim the VAT incurred on purchasing the gift.

But you may, however, have to account for VAT on the value of the gifts if the gifts received by the recipient are more than £50 in a year. If a gift is exempt or zero-rated (i.e. a book) you will not have to account for the VAT.

Gifts for your clients – direct tax deductions

The gifts must carry a clear advertisement for the business (e.g. with branding or logo) which must be on the gift itself, not just the wrapping. They can’t be alcohol, food, drink, tobacco (unless they are your business) or vouchers. Non-promotional gifts and larger gifts are classed as entertaining and are not tax-deductible as an expense.

Cash bonus

Any cash you give to employees as a Christmas bonus counts as earnings, so you’ll need to:

-Add the value to your employee’s other earnings

-Deduct and pay’ Pay As You Earn’ (PAYE) tax and Class 1 National Insurance through payroll

Christmas Party

To be exempt, the party or similar social function must meet the following criteria:

-£150 or less per head (this includes partners)

-Annual, such as a Christmas party or summer barbecue

-Open to all your employees

The costs can include food, drink, tickets to events, accommodation and taxi fare home.

If your business has different locations, then an annual event that’s open to all your staff still counts as exempt. You can also arrange Christmas events for different departments if all your employees can attend one of them. If you hold more than one annual event, so maybe a Summer event as well as Christmas, if the combined costs of the events are no more than £150 per head, they are still exempt.

The VAT is reclaimable, but only for the staff costs, not partners.

Salary sacrifice arrangements

You do have to report how much social functions and parties are worth to each employee if they are a part of a salary sacrifice arrangement.

But we have no employees just directors!

If your business does not have employees but just one of more directors, then the rules are different. The cost of providing entertainment only to directors or partners does not qualify for tax relief or VAT deduction

If the event takes place away from the usual place of work and as part of a business trip, for example, to see a client, then the meal would be eligible.

Any VAT suffered on the cost of travel, accommodation and meals can be reclaimed. The rules for tax relief would mirror this, and this also applies to employees, sole traders, partners, and subcontractors who are part of the team and treated as employees.

 Be less Scrooge at Christmas!

As an additional staff benefit which costs nothing and attracts no tax, why not allow an extra half a day’s holiday for Christmas Shopping?

-Consider extra time off to allow parents or grandparent to watch the school play.

-Maybe you could arrange a team- building day with a local charity to help at a Christmas event in your area.

-This all adds to building staff morale and shows you are a caring employer!

 

Needs more help and advice?

Call us to check if your circumstances do not fit what we have discussed in this blog. We are always happy to help.

There are some useful links to the HMRC website here –

Expenses and benefits: gifts to employees

Expenses and benefits: entertainment 

Specific deductions: entertainment: gifts: overview

 

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