UK organisations with short-term business visitors, i.e. employees of an overseas subsidiary, parent or other group organisations coming to work temporarily in the UK, have two choices:
In many cases, there is a double tax treaty in place which will mitigate the UK personal tax liability of a STBV employee. Where this is the case, a STBV agreement must still be entered into, otherwise the employer will be required to operate PAYE tax and then the employee would need to file a tax return to reclaim the PAYE tax. By entering into a STBV agreement, all that is required is the filing of a STBV report to HMRC on an annual basis.
Alternatively, for employers with only one or two STBVs a year, an application for a NT (nil tax) code on a case by case basis could be made. However, PAYE should be operated until the code is received.
Employees who normally work abroad, but have been stranded (and therefore working) in the UK in the past year (for example, due to the COVID-19 pandemic), may also be subject to a UK payroll reporting requirement. Where this is the case, similar considerations (to those governing business visitors to the UK) will apply.
The STBV agreement cannot apply to the following categories:
In these cases, PAYE tax will be due, however a simplified PAYE arrangement can be put in place to ease the administrative burden of operating PAYE.
Non-resident directors of UK organisations also fall outside the scope of a STBV agreement. However, the key point to note here is that HMRC will expect employers to operate PAYE in the normal way, in respect of director visits to the UK to perform UK board duties. In addition, expenses met by the organisation in connection with these visits may be subject to PAYE. There is also possible exposure to UK National Insurance on earnings and expenses attributable to these visits to the UK. On the other hand, UK board duties performed outside the UK may trigger UK corporate tax risks.
The topic of STBV non-compliance is at the top of every PAYE audit agenda. Non-compliance will mean the employer is exposed to interest and penalties on unpaid PAYE tax, and these penalties can be up to 100% of the unpaid PAYE. In terms of next steps, employers should ask themselves the following questions:
Quite simply, employers who have STBVs should enter into a STBV agreement as soon as possible and there is still time to make an application for a STBV agreement and file an annual report for the 2021/22 tax year.
Our Global Mobility Services team can help employers understand their obligations regarding STBVs, provide assistance on preparing and submitting a STBV application to HMRC and also advise on tracking and monitoring employee presence in the UK. If you would like to have a conversation to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to Kenny Law or your usual Crowe contact.