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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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    Testimonials

    4.78 Average

    269 Reviews

    Sue W

    The people at Redmans talk to you with respect and make you feel like they take your situation personal. They clearly care and are extremely professional. I have recommended Redmans to many people.

    Posted 4 days ago

    Anonymous

    Redmans Solicitors were consistently prompt, efficient and professional from the start of my reaching out to them for support in relation to contentious negotiations of an employment matter that continued for almost two months resulting in a positive settlement agreement. Chris Hadrill was diligent, thorough, empathetic and objective in his advice and guidance, showing deep and broad knowledge of the law and legal processes plus extensive practical experience in handling complex matters, resulting in clear and pragmatic advice in ambiguous circumstances that resulted in a very good outcome. I fully recommend Chris Hadrill and Redmans Solicitors! I have made this review anonymous purely because of the confidentiality obligations in the settlement agreement concluded.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Michelle W

    Redmans solicitors provided legal support and advice for a settlement agreement. Excellent customer service, very professional. The senior associate solicitor kept me updated throughout the process, showed empathy and the agreement was signed-off / completed within the agreed timeline.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Mark W

    Redmans Solicitors were extremely professional and helpful! Chris Hadrill handled my case and was an amazing help! His guidance, advice and understanding to my redundancy settlement were always clear, concise and very helpful and I am very grateful to him, and glad I found Redmans to help with my settlement. I highly recommend them!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Alison M

    Very happy with the advice I received

    Posted 1 month ago

    Margaret A

    I found everything about the company to be extremely professional and efficient. During my initial contact with Chris, he listened well and was reassuring, so I felt confident that my case would be well handled. Caroline was excellent at explaining all the legal points and answering my questions, as well as being very supportive and understanding throughout the process. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Sanja K

    Very efficient and professional service.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I found the advice I was given by Redmans Solicitors to be clear and useful and found the solicitor on my case to be both knowledgeable and approachable.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service from Chris & Mel Chin. The best outcome was achieved from the redundancy process. They were extremely thorough, listened carefully and acted swiftly on my behalf. I highly recommend Redmans Solicitors

    Posted 1 month ago

    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I found Caroline and Chris very Helpful and provided excellent service. Caroline especially provided great legal advice and made me feel at ease with the whole process. I would highly recommend them. Thank you!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

    Posted 1 month ago

    Alex K

    Redmans provided an excellent service, timely and effective. Will definitely recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Great job done on my employment law

    Posted 1 month ago

    Dominica S

    Caroline & Chris were very prompt and efficient.Very happy with the service and will definitely recommend Redmans Solicitor to everyone !

    Posted 1 month ago

    Sandra K

    If you are looking for a group of solicitors who are Professional, Caring and on point, then look no futher than Redmans. I was literally hand held through out my case. Can not find fault with this company, very happy with the result and the service i received. Would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I found dealing with Redmans a pleasure. I got to speak to someone quickly, the advice was profferred promplty and the service was not 'pushy'. In addition, the administration was excellent. What more could you ask for?

    Posted 1 month ago

    ALISDAIR L

    Redmans did a brilliant job regarding my redundancy agreement. I miss read an extra charge which wasnt the case so doing a new review to clarify. I would recommend Redmans for any employment law issues you may have.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Christos G

    Great legal advice and quick correspondence. Very supportive and helpful through the entire process. Thank you Redmans!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Chris Hadrill advised me on a redundancy settlement agreement. He was very responsive, easy to deal with and gave me good advice at a stressful time.

    Posted 2 months ago