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HMRC scraps benefit-in-kind charge on coronavirus tests

10 Jul 2020

The government has scrapped plans to get workers to pay income tax on coronavirus (COVID-19) testing kits purchased by their employer.

HMRC issued guidance on 6 July which outlined that COVID-19 testing kits were to be classified as a taxable benefit-in-kind.

However, the Treasury Select Committee criticised this decision and highlighted that tax bills could build up as employers purchase large numbers of tests.

Mel Stride, Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, said: 'Many employees, especially healthcare and hospitality workers, are required to undergo regular coronavirus testing.

'Many of our key workers could be faced with the perverse incentive of avoiding employer-sponsored tests in order to reduce their tax bill. This cannot be right.'

A spokesperson for the Treasury said: 'Given the importance of widespread testing, we want to ensure that all employers who wish to provide third-party testing to their employees can do so without increasing their tax liability.

'So we will introduce a new income tax exemption for COVID-19 antigen tests provided by employers. HMRC will amend its guidance as soon as possible to reflect this change.'

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Registered in England, Company Registration number – 7906656. Registered Office – 58b High Street, Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes, MK11 1AQ. Registered with the Chartered Institute of Taxation as a firm of Chartered Tax Advisers. Registered to carry out audit work and regulated for a range of investment business activities by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.