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Tax efficient redundancy

Peter McGahan considers the post-furlough economy and presents a few tips for you to consider if you are being made an offer of redundancy/retirement.

tax efficient redundancy payment

Ensuring you are tax efficient when accepting a redundancy payment can mitigate the emotional turmoil of losing your job and prevent a knock on effect into your finances.

The last eighteen months has been a difficult time both financially and psychologically. Most of what matters to us emotionally has been taken away: needing to be with people; security; widening our experiences through travel and meeting people; looking after our friends and family and vice versa. I could go on for a while.

What happens when furlough ends?

Business owners and companies have learned a lot about their ability to operate in the most appalling conditions and with more flexibility, resilience and skill than they thought possible.

Many have taken on loans and will soon have to make repayments. Some are struggling to make their staff return to work and some will simply not have work for staff to return to.

Faced with the great potential of further lockdowns given the increasing cases and counterintuitive strategies of allowing everyone into close contact at a football match, such uncertainty and cost is already too much for companies who, post furlough will probably look to redundancies.

A job (well, an enjoyable one) fulfils many needs, both from a financial security point of view and also an emotional point of view. It’s where you are stretched, where you have meaning and purpose, where you have some sense of daily achievement, where you have autonomy and control, where you feel part of a team, where your sense of status is in social groupings (I am a really good barman at x pub, replaced by ‘unemployed’ has quite a dink in the psyche).

Further redundancy stress varies from: the feeling of not knowing if you can pay your bills to; making complicated decisions regarding your redundancy at a time of heightened emotion.

Here are a few tips for you to consider if you are being made an offer of redundancy/retirement, Google: ‘what are the human givens’ to see what you are giving up emotionally. It’s important and will help you make clearer unemotional decisions.

Understanding what is tax efficient

From a financial point of view, look at how you can take your redundancy from a tax efficiency point of view. Certain elements of a redundancy are tax free, and others are not. Taking your redundancy tax inefficiently could see your tax on savings jump from 0% to 40%, your capital gains tax jump from 10% to 20%, dividend income increase of 7.5% to 38.1% and property increase from 18% to 28%.

Similarly, child benefit can easily be wiped out if the redundancy is added to the income for the year.

Let’s consider an example of ways to make that payment tax efficient. The first £30,000 of the redundancy element (after payment in lieu of notice and salary/bonus/holiday pay which is hit by income tax, employee national insurance of 12% & 2%, and employer national insurance of 13.8%) has no income tax or national insurance to be taken.

After that, there is an income tax and employer tax of 13.8%.

An employee can always make an election to reduce their taxable income via what is called a salary sacrifice. Instead of taking a £10,000 bonus, for example, the employee could elect for the employer to make the pension contribution direct to a pension, saving the National Insurance and lowering the income for tax and impact on the above taxes and benefits.

On top of this, the employee can request from the employer that they redirect their National Insurance contribution saving to the pension. Afterall they will be saving 13.8%, so there is no loss to them to do so. Most good employers would do that automatically. In a normal salary/bonus scenario there is a 12% employee and 13.8% employer National Insurance to be gained.

Tax efficient redundancy payments

For redundancy payments, depending on your income, you will need some advice from your accountant and Independent Financial Adviser as to how much you should sacrifice or pay personally as certain tax issues could be triggered.

Remember also the actual tax breaks, which are achieved by placing the money into a pension in the first place. So, an £8,000 contribution will be topped up to £10,000 for a basic rate taxpayer, whereas a higher rate tax payer’s net cost will be just £6,000 and an additional rate tax payer will effectively be £5,500.

If you have a question about the topic covered in this column, please call 01872 222422 or email [email protected] or visit wwfp.net.

For more content about tax efficient saving and investing, visit our Tax channel.

Last modified: July 8, 2021

Written by 5:51 pm News & Views, Tax