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With the dust still settling on the Mall following a triumphant celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, one may begin to consider the tax deductibility of hosting Diana Ross, Ed Sheeran and the like – a figure reported to be around £28m.
As a general rule for tax, expenditure on entertainment or gifts incurred in the course of a trade or business is not allowed as a deduction against profits, whether incurred directly or paid to a third party such as an events organiser. HMRC are not however completely devoid of holiday spirit and provided conditions are met, certain types of entertainment are allowable. Hurrah.
Events which publicise a business’ products or services are not deemed to be entertaining expenditure and so direct costs are allowable for tax if they meet the “wholly and exclusively” test. The cost of related food, drink or other hospitality is however disallowed. For example if a car manufacturer organises a golf day at which test drives are available, only the direct costs of the test drives and of any publicity material provided are allowed, together with any immaterial costs such as teas and coffees.
Costs are allowable where gifts incorporate a conspicuous advertisement, do not exceed £50 in value (for all gifts made to the same recipient in a year) and are not food, drink, tobacco or tokens or vouchers exchangeable for goods. This could be merchandise branded with the business logo.
Entertaining staff is allowable provided that it is not merely incidental to customer entertaining. Regardless of any deduction allowed against the profits of the business, a tax charge may arise on the employee personally. Employers may need to report the event costs to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on each employee’s form P11D and pay class 1A National Insurance. Generous employers can though opt to pay the Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions on behalf of employees by entering into a PAYE Settlement Agreement (PSA).
To avoid this complicated scenario and to ensure that staff entertainment is allowable, an event would need to meet the following conditions:
To avoid a tax charge, the event would need to meet the additional condition of taking place annually! If an event were to include entertainment for staff as well as customers, the apportionment of expenditure on staff would be fully allowable, whilst the apportionment of expenditure on clients would generally be disallowable (with the exception of any gifts).
Recovering VAT on Entertainment
As a general rule, a business cannot recover input VAT related to client entertainment. VAT incurred on staff entertainment is however recoverable provided the following conditions are met:
1. Entertainment is not only provided for directors/partners
2. Costs incurred are not related to entertaining non-employees. For events which entertain both employees and non-employees, an apportionment of employee-related expenses and VAT would again be made.