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Changes to NICs for the Self-employed

Newsletter issue - October 2015.

From 2015-16 onwards, the collection of Class 2 contributions will be through the self-assessment system. This means that Class 2 NICs can now be paid together with income tax and Class 4 NICs in one chunk on the 31 January following the end of the relevant tax year. In the past, most people have paid Class 2 contributions monthly by direct debit. Following the final payment in July 2015, HMRC have cancelled such direct debit payments, ready for the switch over to the new system of payment under self-assessment. However, those who wish to continue paying their contributions more regularly can set up a Budget Payment Plan (assuming they are up to date with their self-assessment payments) and make payments weekly or monthly by direct debit in advance of the payment deadlines. Further information on Budget Payment Plans can be found on the Gov.uk website here https://www.gov.uk/pay-self-assessment-tax-bill/budget-payment-plan.

At the spring Budget 2015, the government announced its intention to abolish Class 2 NICs. Although few details have been announced to date, it appears that after the abolition of Class 2 NICs, the self-employed will continue to pay Class 4 NIC, but this will be subsequently reformed to include a contributory benefit test. The proposed changes raise a few issues - in particular, whilst abolishing Class 2 NIC will be a welcome simplification to the current system, it is essential that a self-employed individual's contributory benefits entitlement is not eroded by the change. For example, for 2015-16, it is not possible for a sole-trader to pay Class 4 NIC unless their profits exceed £8,060; however, they can still make Class 2 NIC payments, even if their profits are below the small earnings exception threshold (£5,965 for 2015-16), and this, in turn, will retain entitlement to various contributory state benefits. For those who do not opt to use a Budget Payment Plan, the payment date for the 2015-16 liability (£145.60) will be due on 31 January 2017. Self-employed traders will need to budget for this lump sum payment accordingly.