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Reed loses long running battle with HMRC over salary sacrifice

Reed loses long running battle with HMRC over salary sacrifice

You may have been following the recent tax case involving HMRC and specialist recruiter Reed.

The long running battle revolved around the travel and related expenses incurred by temporary job candidates.

Reed’s agents made expenses payments to about half a million temps between 1998 and 2006. The daily “allowance” covered travel expenses up to £11.45 and up to £6 for lunch. These were supposed to be included in a salary sacrifice arrangement, but it turned out that no such agreement covered the period in question.

HMRC argued that the temporary workers were engaged in job-by-job contracts and not a continuous contract as claimed by Reed.

The recent tax tribunal judgement implies that Reed manipulated salary figures to make it look as if a part had been sacrificed when in fact the temps actually received their full payment. The tax tribunal also said that although there were signs that Reed received initial approval for their scheme, there may have been a ‘cock-up’ at HMRC and it was entitled to claim backdated tax.

Reed’s problem is that it is unable to reclaim the total of £158 million in National Insurance and income tax from the temporary workers. Reed Global, the owner of the company, is disputing the figure and intends to appeal the tribunal’s decision and ask for a judicial review into the treatment it has received from the Revenue.

However, the tribunal ruling sounded emphatic. The judges said they were satisfied that the allowances constituted Chapter 1 earnings, and even if that was incorrect, they classed as Chapter 3 earnings that should have been declared for tax and NICs.

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