HMRC have advised that if an employer provides employees working in COVID-19 high-risk environments with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and coronavirus tests it will not be a taxable Benefit In Kind.

HMRC have confirmed that Coronavirus tests provided by the government as part of its national testing scheme will not be a Benefit In Kind (BIK) for tax purposes and no Income Tax or Class 1A NICs will be due.

  • Equally where employers provide testing kits to employees outside of the national testing scheme, whether directly or by purchasing tests to be carried out by a third party, there will also be no BIK.
  • SI 2020/1293 will apply for all tests provided on or after 8 December 2020 until the end of the tax year 2020/2021. Tests provided earlier than that will be taxable under the aforementioned HMRC discretion.
  • s26 Finance Act 2021 provides an income tax exemption on all Covid diagnostic testing whether supplied by the employer or where costs are reimbursed to the employee. Similar regulations provide for a National Insurance Contributions disregard.
  • This has been extended for 2022/23.
  • This applies only to antigen tests (testing for current virus infection) and not antibody tests (testing for previous infection).

Where employees are working in a situation where the risk of Coronavirus transmission is very high and the employer risk assessment shows that PPE is required, the employer must provide PPE to employees and this will be non-taxable.

  • Where an employee requires PPE to carry out their role and the employer cannot provide it, such that the employee purchases it themselves, the employer must reimburse the actual cost to the employee. This is non-taxable, meaning employees cannot claim tax relief on the expenses in the event that the employer fails to reimburse them.

Useful guides on this topic

COVID-19: Government support tracker
This tracker covers measures announced by the government to support individuals and businesses, as we get through COVID-19.

Protective clothing or uniforms provided by the employer: when clothing is given (or lent) to an employee which would qualify that employee for a deduction as above, there is no charge to tax or NICs for the employee and no charge to Class 1 or Class 1A NIC for the employer. 

Clothing and work-wear
Self-employed: Tax relief may be claimed on the cost of clothing provided that it is 'Wholly and exclusively incurred' for the purposes of the trade or profession.

Medical benefits and health checks
What are the tax implications if an employer provides an employee with a medical health check and associated medical treatment?

External link

HMRC Guidance: How to treat certain expenses and benefits provided to employees during coronavirus (COVID-19) 

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