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What is a benefit in kind?

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Benefits in kind are benefits that employees or directors receive from their company which aren’t included in their salary or wages. They’re also sometimes called ‘perks’ or ‘fringe benefits’.

Not all benefits in kind are treated in the same way by the tax system. Some aren’t taxed, but others are, and it can be hard to figure out where you stand. As well as the impact on an employee’s personal tax, National Insurance Contributions are payable by companies on the benefits in kind provided in a tax year, at 13.8% of their determined value. That can make it all a little confusing – how do you know which ones apply to you and which ones don’t?

Thankfully, help is at hand – this article will help you work out what counts as a benefit in kind, which ones apply to you and how to report them to HMRC.

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What is a benefit in kind?

A Benefit in Kind (BIK) refers to any non-cash advantage or service of monetary value provided by an employer to an employee for personal use. These non-cash advantages, also known as 'fringe benefits', are not 'wholly, exclusively, and necessary' for business purposes, hence are considered a BIK.

BIKs are subject to taxation as they hold a monetary value, thereby acting as a supplement to cash salary. This taxation process ensures the prevention of salary substitution with other benefits, helping the tax authority obtain its due share. BIKs can range widely, encompassing items such as company cars, private healthcare, and more. These benefits contribute to your overall income and may need reporting for taxation purposes.

Examples of a benefit in kind

Here’s a run-down of some of the main types of benefits in kind that will incur tax:

A company car

As a company car is seen as a BIK, it is taxable as part of your overall income. The cash value of the company car, aka the BIK, is used to calculate the amount of ‘company car tax’ you pay. So, if you have a more expensive company car, you will pay more tax. BIK can be up to 37% for diesel and petrol cars. You can learn more about how company car tax is calculated in our dedicated guide.  

The government is keen for more businesses to offer electric company cars. As a result, there is a tax benefit to having an electric company car if you meet certain criteria. The BIK charge on electric vehicles is far lower than traditional cars at just 2%, and this will stay fixed until at least 2025. Read more about the tax benefits of electric company cars here

Private health insurance

Also known as private medical insurance, this perk has become increasingly popular for UK businesses. The amount of tax you pay on health or dental insurance depends on your income tax bracket.

Other notable benefits in kind include:

  • Assets provided to an employee that have significant personal use
  • Self Assessment fees paid by the company
  • Home phones with personal use
  • Non-business travel expenses
  • Non-business entertainment expenses

Some benefits don’t incur any tax. However, there are complex rules around each type of benefit and a range of circumstances which HMRC will take into account before deciding if you have tax to pay or not. We recommend you speak to one of our expert accountants about your individual circumstances to find out if tax is payable or not.

A few examples where circumstances may mean no tax is paid include:

  • Meals provided to all employees in a staff canteen – though the value of the meal must be ‘reasonable’
  • Certain costs of travel, such as a work bus service
  • Business expenses paid for on a company credit card by an employee. As long as your employee isn’t making a personal purchase, or where specific tax rules apply (eg fuel for a company car, parking spaces or incidental overnight expenses)
  • Work and safety clothes, such as overalls and hard helmets
  • Mobile phone contracts between your company and the service provider
  • Work-related training

How do you report a benefit in kind?

Benefits in kind are reported on a P11D form; as the benefit effectively increases your salary, there may be National Insurance contributions to be paid on them. It’s important to note that these contributions will be paid by the company, rather than the individual.

Helpfully, P11D filings don’t depend on your company year – instead, all forms need to be submitted by 6th July following the end of the relevant tax year.

If a company offers its employees any of the taxable benefit in kind examples listed above, they’ll need to be included on your P11D.

A company will also need to file a P11D(b) form, which summarises the individual P11D forms they’ve completed for their employees and how much National Insurance will need to be paid on all the expenses and benefits they’ve provided. As mentioned previously, a company has to pay NICs at a rate of 13.8% of the determined value of the benefit in kind.

Additionally, companies are statutory required to operate a system for validating employee expense claims. Therefore, it’s important to keep all receipts and complete expense forms.

If you’re confused by the P11D and P11D(b) forms, or you’re a Crunch client and want more information on how to file a P11D in your Crunch account, our article ‘What is a P11D?’ can help.

Important

We recommend you discuss any benefit you plan to offer your company’s directors and employees with one of our expert accountants. As you can see, the rules around benefits in kind are complex and each example needs to be looked at based on its individual circumstances to see if any tax is payable by the employee and/or your company.

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Ross Bramble
Content Executive
Updated on
May 28, 2024

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