Beware of the mobile phone tax trap 📱
Updated: Jul 21, 2021
It’s a well-known tax free benefit – an employer may provide one mobile phone per employee for both business and personal use without triggering a taxable Benefit-in-Kind (Section 319 ITEPA 2003).
Sounds simple enough but there are conditions:
The mobile phone / sim-card must remain the property of the employer
One phone per employee
The contract must be between the employer and the mobile phone provider
It’s this final condition that often catches out micro companies that blissfully pay for the director’s mobile phone bills whilst the contract remains in the director’s personal name.
Whilst a seemingly minor technicality the tax treatment of reimbursement of mobile phone costs triggers a costly Benefit-in-Kind Income Tax and National Insurance charge.
HMRC are taking a strict stance on this matter, and when discovered, order assessments of often 4 years underpaid taxes averaging £600 before penalties and interest.
What’s the solution?
If your mobile contract isn’t in the company name – don’t overly worry – you’re not alone by a long stretch. To keep things practical (and in the real world) we suggest the following:
First of all, call your mobile provider to ask about their procedure for transferring the contract to the company (personally I found this surprisingly straight forward)
If there are extra charges to make the change during your contract, then wait until you’re out of your contract and try again – this is usually the easiest time to transfer your contract and you’re usually offered the same price as personal rate tariffs
Essentially, in our experience, it’s easier and cheaper than most people realise to review your mobile contracts yourself before HMRC do!
Would you like help to pay less tax? Feel free to get in-touch or check-out our related posts 👇.