As the name suggests, tax free long service awards are tax efficient. If you provide an employee with a non-cash award to reward long service, the payment can be made without deduction of tax or National Insurance contributions, as long as the following criteria are observed:

  1. As this is a reward to employees it is not available to self-employed sole traders or partners. It is available to directors who receive a salary for their services.
  2. The award has to mark at least 20 years of service.
  3. You must not have made a previous long service award within the last ten years.
  4. The value of the reward cannot exceed £50 per year of service – so the maximum value of an award to an employee with 20 years of service is £1,000.
  5. As pointed out in the opening paragraph of this article the award has to be made in a non-cash form. Cash awards are taxable as earnings in the usual way. You should also be wary about awards that can quickly be converted into cash, for example marketable stocks or shares or precious metals – these do not fulfil the non-cash criteria.

There are a number of complicated rules to abide by if your payment falls outside the above five points – for instance if you exceed the £50 per year or if the employee has less than 20 years of service.

If you are thinking of making use of this potential tax-free perk it is best to check with us before making the award.

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