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National Insurance Contributions

It seems that HMRC is trying to gather every penny in tax and national insurance contributions (NIC), from every possible source. Recently it has been demanding payment of class 2 NICs from landlords and investors in investment partnerships. If you get a bill for back-dated class 2 NICs should you pay it?

The annual class 2 NI liability is a relatively small amount (£143 for 2014/15), but it can provide you with an entitlement to the UK state pension. At least ten full years of NI contributions will be required to receive any state pension if you reach state pension age (SPA) after 5 April 2016. Note that SPA is gradually being increased up from age 65. If you are currently aged under 54 you will not become entitled to your state pension until you reach at least 67.

If your main source of income is rents or investments, paying class 2 NICs for past tax years could provide you with some state pension entitlement. On the other hand if your main income is from an employment, you are probably paying sufficient class 1 NICs in each tax year to gain your pension entitlement. We can help you decide what is best for your circumstances.

New tax free allowance

The standard personal allowance (amount of tax-free income) for 2013/14 will be £9,440. We had been expecting a smaller increase to £9,205.

The new higher allowance allows an individual to earn £181.54 per week (about £787 per month) tax free. But the NIC thresholds will not increase by as much, so an employee starts to pay NICs on income way below the tax-free threshold.

In 2013/14 the class 1 primary NI earnings threshold for employees will be £149 per week (£7755 per year). Employers will pay class 1 NI on wages of £148 or more per week (£7700 per year). You need to consider the NI costs for both you and your company when deciding how much you can extract from your own company as salary.

If you pay yourself the full personal allowance of £9,440 as salary from 6 April 2013, you will have personal NIC of £202.20 (12% x (9440-7755)) for the year. Your company will also pay £240.12 (13.8% x (9440-7700)) in class 1 NICs. However, the salary and NIC cost is fully tax allowable for the company.

A salary of £7,695 per year (about £147.98 per week) will avoid both employees and employers NICs. But you will get an NI credit for state retirement pension purposes if your salary lies in the range £109 to £149 per week. Unfortunately under RTI (see above), payments of salary in that range will have to be reported to HMRC, so there is no admin saving on paying a low salary.

Sleeping partners and national insurance

In the past sleeping partners and inactive partners didn’t have to pay National Insurance contributions on their partnership profits. However, HM Revenue & Customs changes its view on this in April 2013 and it now considers that all partners are liable to pay National Insurance contributions in respect of their taxable profits, whatever their level of activity within the business. The implications for inactive and sleeping partners are:

  • if not already registered as self-employed, the person must register with HM Revenue & Customs and arrange to pay class 2 National Insurance contributions from 6th April 2013;
  • exemptions from paying class 2 National Insurance contributions can be claimed if the taxable profits are low, or the individual has another employment; and
  • class 4 National Insurance contributions will be due on their profits from 2013/14 onwards and will be collected through the normal self-assessment for 2013/14.