Trivial benefits – tax free benefits

You don’t have to pay tax on a benefit for your employee if all of the following apply:

  • it cost you £50 or less to provide
  • it isn’t cash or a cash voucher
  • it isn’t a reward for their work or performance
  • it isn’t in the terms of their contract

This is known as a ‘trivial benefit’. You don’t need to pay tax or National Insurance or let HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) know.

You have to pay tax on any benefits that don’t meet all these criteria.

Directors of ‘close’ companies

You can’t receive trivial benefits worth more than £300 in a tax year if you’re the director of a ‘close’ company.

A close company is a limited company that’s run by 5 or fewer shareholders.

Suggestion for directors

Use the company credit card to buy gift cards with £50 credit on each of them. Over the next few months occasionally give one of these to each director (do not exceed £300 per annum). These gift cards cannot be exchanged for cash.

HMRC examples

Example I

Company I provides a director with 3 benefits that cost £30, £40 and £50 respectively in a single tax year. The total cost of the benefits is £120. The total cost does not exceed the annual exempt amount of £300 and all of the benefits can be covered by the exemption.

Example J

Company J provides a director with 7 benefits that each cost £50 each during the tax year. The total cost is £350 which exceeds the annual exempt amount. The last benefit is not exempt from tax.

Example K

Company K provides a director with 8 benefits in the tax year. The first 5 benefits during the tax year cost £50 each. In date order, the next cost £40, £45 and £10 respectively. The total cost of the first 6 benefits is £290 which is less than the annual exempt amount so they are all exempt. The £45 benefit brings the total cost to £335 which exceeds the annual exempt amount. Therefore, the £45 benefit is not exempt, but is not counted towards the annual exempt amount. The £10 benefit brings the total cost to £300 which does not exceed the annual exempt amount so it is also exempt.