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Yes, it’s that time of year again! Christmas is on the horizon, and the office Christmas party planning will be in full swing for many companies across the UK. So, if you are planning a shindig for your employees, you should maximise the tax breaks available from HMRC, and make sure you don’t fall foul of the rules and fail to pay what could be due to the taxman.

If you want to have a party that can benefit from tax breaks, then there are a few rules you need to follow. The party needs to cost less than £150 per head – providing you haven’t had any other parties during the same tax year. The exemption of £150 per person applies across the year, so if you have had a summer barbeque for example, which cost £60 a head, then you only have £90 per person left to spend on the Christmas party.

The party must be open to all

The parties must be annual – like the Christmas party – and must be open to all employees, otherwise they will not be considered exempt by HMRC.

If you happen to have various offices around the UK, then it is fine to have different parties in different places, as long as all members of staff are able to attend one of them. If this is the case, then you will still benefit from the tax exemption.

One other thing to consider is that if you have staff who are on Salary Sacrifice arrangements within your business, then you need to inform them of how much each social occasion is worth to comply with the rules.

Remember, if any of the events you have put on for staff throughout the year don’t count as being exempt, then you must report all costs to HMRC and you will be liable for National Insurance payments on those amounts.

Each employee will need to have the cost reported to them on their P11D form, and the employer will need to pay Class 1A NICs on the amounts. 

You can find out more about your obligations on the Gov.uk website, which is the best way to ensure you don’t end up with a financial hangover.

Let us help you

If you want to know what you can and can’t do in terms of the cost of your Christmas party, then please get in touch and we will be happy to offer you the help and guidance you need.