Do You Pay Tax on Redundancy Notice Period?
What is the Redundancy Notice Period?
In the UK, the redundancy notice period refers to the length of time an employer must give an employee before their employment ends due to redundancy. This is a legal requirement and the length of the notice period depends on how long the employee has been working for the company.
If an employee has been with the company for between one month and two years, the minimum notice period is one week. If they've been with the company for more than two years, the notice period is one week for each year they've been employed, up to a maximum of 12 weeks for those who've been with the company for 12 years or more.
During the notice period, the employee is entitled to their normal pay and benefits, and they may also be allowed time off to look for a new job or arrange training. If an employer doesn't want the employee to work during the notice period, they can offer 'pay in lieu of notice' (PILON), which means the employee receives their full pay and benefits for the notice period, but doesn't have to work.
It's important to note that these are minimum notice periods - some employers may offer longer notice periods as part of the employment contract.
Understanding Redundancy Payments
Redundancy payments are a form of compensation provided to employees who are being let go due to no fault of their own, such as in the event of a company downsizing or restructuring. This payment can include several components such as statutory redundancy pay, holiday pay, unpaid wages, and company benefits like bonuses.
Tax Implications on Redundancy Payments
The tax implications on redundancy payments can be complex and depend on the specific components of your redundancy package. Here's a breakdown of the tax rules:
Statutory Redundancy Pay
Statutory redundancy pay is a legal entitlement for employees who have been working for their employer for at least two years. The amount you receive depends on your age, weekly pay, and length of service. Importantly, statutory redundancy pay under £30,000 is not taxable.
Holiday Pay and Unpaid Wages
Holiday pay and unpaid wages are considered as earnings and are therefore subject to tax and National Insurance contributions. This means that if you receive any outstanding holiday pay or wages as part of your redundancy package, you will need to pay tax on these amounts.
Company benefits such as bonuses are also considered as earnings and are subject to tax and National Insurance contributions. If these benefits are included in your redundancy package, they will be taxable.
Payment in Lieu of Notice (PILON)
Payment in lieu of notice is a payment made to employees when an employer terminates an employment contract without giving the required notice. All contractual and non-contractual payments in lieu of notice are subject to tax and National Insurance contributions, regardless of whether you worked through your notice period or not.
How Much Tax Will You Pay on Your Redundancy?
Taxation of Redundancy Payments
The first £30,000 of a redundancy settlement is usually untaxed. However, any amount exceeding this threshold is considered as "wages" and is subject to taxation. Depending on your income for the tax year and the size of your redundancy payment, part or all of your redundancy payment above £30,000 could be taxed at the higher rate of 40%.
Using a Pension to Reduce Your Tax Bill
One effective way to reduce the tax on your redundancy payment is to invest the funds into a pension scheme. This strategy allows you to gain back the income tax on the amount invested at the rate paid. For example, if you have a redundancy payment of £116,000, with £30,000 being non-taxable, that leaves £86,000. If this amount is taxed at 40%, you would be left with £51,600. However, if you decide to invest the whole £86,000 into a personal pension, you would immediately gain tax relief at 20%. This means that you would only need to contribute £68,800, but £86,000 would go into the pension. As a higher-rate taxpayer, you could then claim a further 20% tax relief when you complete your tax return, effectively reducing your net outlay to £51,600.
Carrying Forward Pension Contributions
The maximum pension contribution in any tax year is restricted to either the amount you actually earn, or £40,000, whichever is lower. However, you are allowed to carry forward unused pension allowances from the previous three tax years. This means that if you have unused allowances from previous years, you could potentially invest more than £40,000 into your pension in the current tax year, further reducing your tax bill.
If you are over 55, you can take advantage of the "immediate vestment" option. This allows you to "vest" or cash in the pension, taking 25% as a tax-free sum. For example, if you invest £86,000, you could immediately get back £21,500 tax-free. You could then draw an income from the remaining pension fund, which would be subject to income tax.
Other Tax-Efficient Options
If investing in a pension doesn't meet your needs, there are other tax-efficient options you could consider. For example, you could use your full ISA investment allowance for the current tax year, and invest in a way that allows you to utilise your ISA account with each future tax year. You could also consider investments that utilise your Capital Gains Tax allowances.
Remember, the rules around pensions and tax can be complicated, so it's always a good idea to seek independent financial advice before making any decisions.
What Happens If I Get a Job During My Redundancy Notice Period?
Understanding Your Redundancy Notice Period
A redundancy notice period is the time between when your employer notifies you of your redundancy and your last working day. The length of this period depends on your length of service with the company. During this period, you are still considered an employee and are entitled to your usual pay and benefits.
Working During Your Redundancy Notice Period
Whether you have to work during your notice period is up to your employer. However, regardless of their decision, you will be paid for this period. If your employer asks you not to come into work during your notice period, you could be given garden leave or receive payment in lieu of notice (PILON).
Garden leave is when you are asked not to come into work when your notice period begins. However, you are still an employee and are subject to all your contractual obligations. This means you can't start a new job until your garden leave has finished, but you may be called back into work if needed. You are allowed to look for a new job during this period, but you cannot start one until your garden leave has ended.
Payment in Lieu of Notice (PILON)
Payment in lieu of notice is when your employer terminates your employment immediately and gives you a lump sum to cover what you would have earned during your notice period. If you receive PILON, you may be able to start a new job straight away, as long as there are no post-termination restrictions in your contract or outlined in a settlement agreement.
Getting a New Job During Your Redundancy Notice Period
If you secure a new job during your redundancy notice period, you usually need to wait until your notice period ends before starting your new role. If you choose to start your new job before serving the full notice period, your employer may be able to take legal action against you, and it could result in you losing your redundancy pay entitlement.
If you are expected to work your notice period or are put on garden leave, then you won’t be able to start a new role until your notice period comes to an end. However, if you have been given payment in lieu of notice, you are typically able to start a new role straight away, as long as you are not subject to any post-termination restrictions.
Declaring Redundancy on Tax Return
Taxation of Redundancy Payments
When you receive a redundancy payment, it's important to understand how it will be taxed. According to the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG), redundancy payments are taxed using your normal tax code. If your redundancy payment is made after you leave your job, it will be taxed using the basic rate (BR) tax code or the 0T (zero cumulative) against any taxable amounts.
Redundancy Payments and Tax Returns
The GOV.UK website states that if you're made redundant, you may receive a 'termination payment'. This could include statutory redundancy pay, holiday pay, unpaid wages, and company benefits like bonuses. Statutory redundancy pay under £30,000 is not taxable. However, what you'll pay tax and National Insurance on depends on what's included in your termination payment.
Reducing Taxation on Redundancy Payments
Money to the Masses suggests that the best way to reduce the taxation on the settlement is to use the funds to increase your pension benefits in retirement, by investing into a pension scheme. You will automatically gain back the income tax on the amount invested at the rate paid. However, the maximum contribution in any tax year is restricted to either the amount you actually earn, or £40,000, whichever is the lower figure. The £86,000 is regarded as pensionable income for this purpose, but not the £30,000.
Do I Need Professional Help from a Tax Advisor for Paying Tax on Redundancy?
The Role of a Tax Advisor
A tax advisor is a professional with advanced training and knowledge of tax law. They can provide detailed advice on tax matters, help you understand your tax obligations, and assist in planning strategies to minimise your tax liability. They can also help you complete and submit your tax return, ensuring it is accurate and compliant with the law.
When to Seek Professional Help
If your redundancy package is straightforward, and you're comfortable with your understanding of the tax implications, you may not need the help of a tax advisor. However, if your redundancy package is complex, or if it includes elements like PILON, bonuses, or a large payment that takes your income into a higher tax bracket, it could be beneficial to seek professional advice.
A tax advisor can help you understand the tax implications of your redundancy package, advise on strategies to minimise your tax liability, and ensure you're meeting all your tax obligations. They can also help you understand how your redundancy payment will affect your tax code and what you need to declare on your tax return.
In conclusion, while statutory redundancy pay under £30,000 is tax-free, other components of a redundancy package such as holiday pay, unpaid wages, company benefits, and payments in lieu of notice are subject to tax and National Insurance contributions. It's essential to understand these tax implications to manage your finances effectively during a redundancy situation. Always consult with a financial advisor or tax professional to ensure you understand your tax obligations.