Personal use of a company PC could incur £210 tax liability

Both employers and employees could be forced to pay tax on personal e-mails or using the internet for non-business-related purposes at work under chancellor Gordon Brown’s revised Budget proposals.

Businesses could have to pay £210 tax a year on every work computer used for sending personal e-mails or surfing the internet, tax experts have advised.

The Chartered Institute of Taxation said the change will become a “new bureaucratic burden” on employers.

The new rules, set out in this year’s Budget in March, state that computers that are used for significant non-business purposes should be regarded as a benefit in kind, meaning that employees will have to pay income tax on them and employers will have to pay additional national insurance contributions.

Anne Redston, chairman of personal taxes at the institute, said that more clarification was needed.

“Clear guidance is needed so that employers and employees know exactly whether or not they have a tax liability,” she said.

But the Treasury said the regulations would not have a significant effect on businesses and that the law had been designed to prevent fraud or “blatant overuse” of company computers.

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