16
May

Pay and expenses for volunteers

There are many rewarding opportunities for volunteering available across the UK. It is a popular misconception that only young people volunteer, however, people of all ages volunteer for numerous roles in a wide range of charitable and other sectors.

There is no official minimum or maximum age for volunteering. However, the following points should be taken into account:

  • Certain organisations’ insurance policies don’t cover volunteers if under 16 or over a certain age (usually 80), and
  • A young person under 14 cannot work for a profit-making organisation even if the work is unpaid.

Many organisations have a volunteer agreement which explains:

  • the level of supervision and support you’ll get;
  • what training you’ll get;
  • whether you’re covered under the organisation’s employer or public liability insurance;
  • health and safety issues;
  • any expenses the organisation will cover.

The volunteer agreement isn’t compulsory. The role of volunteer is usually unpaid and the usual legal protections for employees will not apply. Volunteers are not covered by employment law and do not have formal rights for redress in an Employment Tribunal.

Planning note:

A volunteer can continue to receive benefits if the only money they receive is to cover expenses. This is usually limited to food, drink, travel or any required equipment. If a volunteer receives any other payment they may be classed as an employee or worker and would then have employment rights including an entitlement to the minimum wage.

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16
May

When might you be due a tax refund?

HMRC has issued helpful guidance that explains when you might be due a tax refund and how to make a claim.

According to HMRC you may be able to claim a refund if you:

  • are employed and had too much tax taken from your pay;
  • have stopped work;
  • sent a tax return and paid too much tax;
  • have paid too much tax on pension payments;
  • bought a life annuity.

You may also qualify for tax rebates if you have spent money on your job such as fuel costs or work clothing, paid tax on savings interest or if you have income in one country and live in another.

Claims can be backdated for up to four years after the end of the tax year. This means that claims still be made for overpaid interest dating back as far as the 2014-15 tax year which ended on 5 April 2015. The deadline for making claims for the 2014-15 tax year is 5 April 2019.

Making a claim depends on a number of factors. For example, the annual reconciliation of PAYE for the tax year 2017-18 is under way. HMRC use salary and pension information to calculate if the correct amount of tax has been paid. Where the incorrect amount of tax has been paid, HMRC use the P800 form to inform taxpayers. HMRC expects to send all P800 forms by the end of September 2018 for those due a refund. The P800 will tell you how to apply for a refund or how to pay any tax underpaid. For earlier tax years a claim can usually be made online.

Planning note:

It is also possible to make a claim for overpaid tax during the current tax year, if for example you are made redundant or are leaving the UK to live abroad. If you need any assistance in making a claim for overpaid tax, we are here to help.

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Pensions Regulator to seize assets where employers fail to pay workplace pension fines

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has announced that employers who refuse to pay workplace pension fines could have their assets seized to pay their debts.

TPR can issue fines to employers who fail to meet their automatic enrolment duties and can secure court orders if the debts are not then paid. TPR is to now appoint High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) to enforce court orders in England and Wales, and the equivalent in Scotland and Northern Ireland, on those employers who have refused or failed to comply. If an employer does not pay their debts, HCEOs could visit the employer’s business premises to seize and remove items to sell, up to the value of the amount owed. This could include the employer’s company vehicles. Unlike bailiffs, HCEOs have the power to force entry to locked commercial premises to seize assets.

TPR has never needed to use HCEOs before. The intention is to only use them on those rare occasions when, without good excuse, an employer has failed or refused to pay a fine imposed by TPR and after which TPR has subsequently obtained a court order for the amount owed.

Separately, TPR will consider whether it should prosecute employers that remain non-compliant with their automatic enrolment duties despite being given a court order demanding they pay the fines they have incurred.

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