As a limited company owner, you may feel that the tax system does you few favours. However, all is not lost, as there is still one benefit available to contractors each year – albeit a small one. This is the favourable tax treatment of your annual Christmas do.
There is no specific allowance for a ‘Christmas party’ as such, however HMRC does provide limited tax relief for the cost of holding an ‘annual event’ for your company, providing certain conditions are met.
Outside of this specific exception, staff entertainment is considered to be a ‘Benefit in Kind’, and directors and employees would need to pay tax on the amount of the benefit.
As a company director, you are entitled to provide an annual event for yourself, any staff you employ, and your partner, and reclaim the costs against the company, as long as the cost per head does not exceed £150 (including VAT).
The cost per head can include accommodation, transport, and food and drink – but must not exceed the £150 threshold, even by a penny. The event must also be open to all company staff to attend.
You may decide to hold several events throughout the year, but the total claim for all events must not exceed this threshold. So, you may decide to make the claim for a summer event rather than a festive one. It’s up to you.
Importantly, as with all expense claims, you do actually have to hold an event in order to reclaim the costs against your company. You can’t simply make a cash claim for £150.
To calculate the cost per head, HMRC states that you should ‘divide the total cost of each function by the total number of people (including non-employees) who attend in order to arrive at the cost per head.
As with many other tax rates and bands, this exemption hasn’t increased with inflation. In fact, had it done so since its introduction in April 2003, limited company owners would be able to claim around £215 per person for the annual Christmas party!
For a detailed explanation of the annual event expense rules, click here (HMRC).
The rules governing business expenses are complex, so do contact your accountant if you have any questions about what you can and cannot claim against your company’s Corporation Tax bill.
For an overview of all the typical business expenses you are likely to encounter as a limited company owner, click here.