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Annual Christmas bash?

Trying to double guess the social distancing rules is rather like placing bets on a throw of the dice. The current exhortation from the Prime Minister – to observe the rule of six – is yet a further change in the endless attempts at controlling coronavirus by manipulating social distancing regulation.

But we all need respite; we need to be able to look forward to a cheery Christmas. Unfortunately, based on current progress to control COVID-19, this is looking an increasingly remote possibility.

However, if an annual Christmas bash is on the cards we have outlined below the rules to observe from a tax point of view to ensure that the cost of your annual staff party will not create unintended tax issues for you or your staff.

  1. The event must be open to all employees at a specific location.
  2. An annual Christmas party or other annual event offered to staff generally is not taxable on those attending provided that the average cost per head of the functions does not exceed £150 p.a. (including VAT). The guests of staff attending are included in the head count when computing the cost per head attending.
  3. All costs must be considered, including the costs of transport to and from the event, accommodation provided, and VAT. The total cost of the event is divided by the number attending to find the average cost. If the limit is exceeded then individual members of staff will be taxable on their average cost, plus the cost for any guests they were permitted to bring.
  4. VAT input tax can be recovered on staff entertaining expenditure. If the guests of staff are also invited to the event the input tax should be apportioned, as the VAT applicable to non-staff is not recoverable. However, if non-staff attendees pay a reasonable contribution to the event, all the VAT can be reclaimed and of course output tax should be accounted for on the amount of the contribution.

Perhaps you could book a local restaurant and break up your party into tables of six?