Taxman persuaded to relax attitude to stress at work

Regulations will be included in this year’s Finance Bill.

Employers’ welfare representatives have persuaded the Revenue to take a more lenient line on taxing workplace counselling as officials had earlier said tax relief could only be given if complaints were work-related.

Rita Sammons, president of the Society of Chief Personnel Officers, said: ‘The Revenue was trying to differentiate between what was described as work and what was work place and personal related.

‘They have listened and accepted that they cannot differentiate and are now going to produce a scheme which will exempt all work-based stress counselling.’

Benefits in kind provided by employers for employees – including private medical or other health or welfare benefits – are generally taxable if the employee earns £8,500 a year or more.

The only exceptions are where the counselling or treatment relates directly to something that has happened in carrying out the employment.

In practice, however, where welfare counselling services are available to employees the benefit per employee can be very small and tax may not be charged.Last October the Revenue announced that work place counselling would be subject to taxation because it is seen as a benefit.

But, following consultation, the exemption will be given provided the counselling service is available to employees of the employer generally.’The Inland Revenue has listened and appears to be responding positively to representations,’ Sammons added.

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