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Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, answers the question:

“What sums paid to me under my settlement agreement should be free of tax?”

Given that the question is one which is general in nature, it is not possible to provide a specific answer – which sums will be taxed and which sums will not be taxed will vary in each circumstance depending on the particular facts. However, it is possible to provide some general guidelines as to when employees may expect sums to be taxed and when they may expect them to be untaxed – we will examined this as follows:

  1. Which payments under a settlement agreement will generally be taxed?
  2. Which payments under a settlement agreement will generally be free of tax?

Which payments under a settlement agreement will generally be taxed?

‘General earnings’ will normally be subject to tax (and, where applicable, national earnings) under a settlement agreement. General earnings will normally (but not always) include (but are not limited to) the following types of payment:

  • Any salary, wage or fee (salary, bonus, commission etc.)
  • Any other kind of benefit (health insurance, life assurance, car allowance etc.)
  • Anything that constitutes a ‘contractual emolument’ of employment
  • Employer-financed retirement benefits
  • Payments and benefits upon termination of employment (which payments will be deemed to be related to termination will depend on the circumstances)
  • Income from securities
  • Gardening leave payments
  • Consideration for restrictive covenants
  • Contractual payments in lieu of notice

Which payments under a settlement agreement will generally be free of tax?

The first £30,000 of payments that fall within section 401 ITEPA 2003 are generally exempt from tax. Any excess above £30,000 will be subject to tax in the normal way. The following non-contractual payments are generally tax-free:

  • Ex-gratia payments
  • Damages for wrongful dismissal and payment on account of damages
  • Compensation for unfair dismissal or other breach of statutory rights
  • Compensation for injury to feelings and/or personal injury in discrimination cases (although this depends upon whether the discrimination was pre-termination or in connection with termination)

If you have been offered a settlement agreement by your employer (or are an employer offering a settlement agreement to an employee) and you are unsure as to which sums under your settlement agreement should be taxed (and which sums should be free of tax) then it is recommended that you obtain legal advice on your position – this is a reasonably complex area of law and getting it wrong can have potentially serious consequences. However, you may also follow the guidance provided by HMRC on determining the correct tax treatment of a termination payment – HMRC recommends that the following questions are addressed:

  1. Does the payment fall within the category of general earnings (or is it a benefit of the employment) under Parts 2 to 5 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 (“ITEPA 2003”)?
  2. If not, is it a payment for a restrictive covenant taxable under sections 225 and 226 of ITEPA 2003?
  3. If not, and no other income tax charge applies (for example, compensation for loss of a share option) ,is the payment a payment taxable under sections 401 to 416 ITEPA 2003?

 

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

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Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
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W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.62 Average

39 Reviews

Katelyn

The solicitor communicated well with me and made sure I understood everything. He did everything needed for my settlement agreement and tried to get the wording changed in my favour too.

Posted 3 days ago

Anonymous

Redmans provided excellent services

Posted 3 days ago

Sibel U

Excellent service

Posted 3 days ago

Peter S

I was very happy with the level of advise I received from Caroline Lewis, and a very professional service fron Chris, The advice given really helped me and I was comfortable to sign the settlement agreement following my redundancy. I would be more than happy to recommend your services to others.

Posted 3 days ago

Derek S

I very much appreciated the help provided by Redmans in the settlement agreement agreed with my former employer.

Posted 4 days ago

Waseem M

It was the first ime I used Redmans Solicitors and to be honest, thety were amazing. Rana Tandon and Chris Hadrill were out of this world. They made the process as simply and smooth as can be. Thank you so much for all your support over the last week.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Worked very quickly considering right deadlines - and gave great advice

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Redmans provided me with excellent advice at a very stressful time. The calm, confident and extremely professional manner in which my solicitor handled my case made the issue much easier to deal with and I was very impressed with the level of service I received.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Immediate response to my initial enquiry. Very clear throughout the whole process and thorough and great communication which worked really well during quite a stressful time. Chris Hadrill was extremely helpful and made me feel at ease.

Posted 3 months ago

Nick D

I received a very professional service from Chris. The advice given really helped to leave me comfortable to sign the settlement agreement following my redundancy. Would be happy to recommend your services to others.

Posted 3 months ago

Anonymous

Excellent service from initial contact to deliverables.

Posted 4 months ago

Virginia K

Yes, Chris Hadrill answered all my questions and I feel more confident with my current situation

Posted 4 months ago

Anonymous

Chris Hadrill was referred to me my a friend of mine. I found the service to be efficient, quick and like Chris's direct approach to my work. Well done and thank you Chris!

Posted 4 months ago

Andy W

Very prompt & structured service that helped put my mind at rest at a difficult time

Posted 4 months ago

Anonymous

I have found Redmans to be very helpful, diligant and thoroughly professional when dealing with them, plus they gone that extra mile for me !

Posted 4 months ago

Anonymous

Thank you to Chris Hadrill at Redmans for his assistance in settling my case. I contacted him at the very last minute and he was happy to help me and managed to get everything done on time and in a very professional manner. I will definitely be happy to work with him again .

Posted 4 months ago

Redman's provided excellent legal employment advice for me during a difficult time in my employment. Chris was my lawyer, super efficient, quick, reliable and clearly very experienced in the matter. Could not ask for a better law firm to deal with your query if you are in need of some help. Would definitely use them again in the future. Highly recommending Chris.

Posted 8 months ago

Steven

Chris Hadrill was very professional and responsive. I would highly recommend him

Posted 8 months ago

Dinah

Very Efficient, with very quick email reply’s. I had a matter that needed resolving within a very short space of time and Redmans Solicitors were great with dealing with my matter quickly.

Posted 8 months ago

Ankar

At Redmans the solicitor that was dealing with me was Chris. He dealt with my situation smoothly with clear guidance and explanation

Posted 8 months ago

Anonymous

Clear, concise advice and guidance delivered by an experienced and very capable solicitor, within the timelines required

Posted 9 months ago