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Clarity needed on taxation of COVID test costs, says ICAEW

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has urged HMRC to confirm whether coronavirus (COVID-19) antigen tests paid for by employers will continue to be exempt from income tax and national insurance after 5 April 2021.

Guidance published by HMRC states that employers and employees will not be liable for any income tax or national insurance contributions (NICs) on the costs of the test. However, no end date is given for this exemption.

Regulations outlined by HMRC in December confirmed that tests provided by employers would be exempt from 8 December 2020 until 5 April 2021. Additionally, a government announcement confirmed that legislation would be introduced to give a temporary NIC and income tax exemption from 25 January 2021 until 5 April 2021.

The ICAEW has asked HMRC whether new legislation will be created to extend the exemption or whether HMRC intends to use its collection and management powers. The Institute also called for HMRC to provide clarity on the difference between antigen tests and antibody tests, which are not exempt.