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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:

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Testimonials

4.76 Average

172 Reviews

Anonymous

I had an employment issue which required legal advice. Chris was very supportive and knowledgeable, resulting in an optimum resolution in my favour. Would definitely recommend.

Posted 4 days ago

David M

Very professional and first-rate advice. I would use again. With thanks,

Posted 4 days ago

Anonymous

Got the job done swiftly without going too much in to detail.

Posted 5 days ago

Derek W

Redmans dealt with my case very efficiently and I was happy with the outcome.

Posted 6 days ago

Anonymous

Timely professional advice!

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Very good service

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

I was in contact with Chris and then worked with Caroline on an employment matter. I was very pleased with the service and professionalism throughout, and came away with satisfied with the outcome. Would happily recommend.

Posted 1 week ago

Nikki

Received advice re employment law. Chris was very helpful and advised accordingly. Would happily recommend them and if ever I need help again, will not think twice before using them.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Samantha K

Absolutely brilliant thank you. Caroline Lewis is a legend

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

The legal advice was clear and helpful.

Posted 2 months ago

Davinder P

Good Service

Posted 2 months ago

Adrian V

I was using Redmans services for a Settlement Agreement. Very quick and professional service. The outcome was favourable and I was very pleased with the amendments and results. Pretty glad to recommend them for any type of legal advice.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very responsive, efficient, clear and supportive. Thank you! Highly recommend.

Posted 2 months ago

Tiago S

Chris was always prompt to help me with legal matters that are beyond my comprehension and very helpful leasing with my former employer. I would recommend Redmans Solicitors to everyone who needs help.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Fast and professional advice tailored to what was needed. Thanks for your help Chris Hadrill and team.

Posted 2 months ago

Peter S

Really pleased with the outcome and the advice I had from Chris and Sacha.

Posted 2 months ago

Harika A

Redmans solicitor's helped me with my settlement agreement, Chris has been very helpful throughout the process.He was very prompt in his responses and made my settlement look simple.Special thanks to Caroline for her efficient communication, thorough explaination of contract terminology and negotiations.I highly reccommend Redmans solicitors for anyone seeking employment related legal help.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Good and quick service

Posted 2 months ago

Ricky D

Very satisfying to be assured of such attention and professionalism.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Excellent service - thankyou

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Efficient, timely and friendly support and advice

Posted 2 months ago