By Alan Masson, head of tax at SBP Accountants and Business Advisors…
THE long summer break between May and September can be the perfect opportunity for students to see the world and earn a bit of extra cash abroad ahead of the new term.
However, many fall into the trap of thinking they are exempt from the usual tax rules because they are earning their keep in a different country – or because they are a student.
The tax rules for students working abroad over the summer can be quite complicated and it should be noted that you could end up paying tax twice – once in the country of work and again in the UK.
Generally, you normally will be able to claim relief on tax paid abroad but you may be have to pay whichever country has the higher tax rate – usually the UK. This is known as double taxation and you should seek advice on your individual circumstances from the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if you are in this situation.
The simple explanation is that your tax rules will remain the same as if you were working in the UK. There is still a common misconception that students do not have to pay any tax at all, despite every generation of learners, without fail, making the same discovery that they will have to pay income tax and National Insurance (NI) contributions if they earn over their personal allowance.
In reality the vast majority do not earn more than the annual tax-free threshold, which currently sits at £10,000 for anyone born after 5 April, 1948, and therefore won’t pay tax.
The personal allowance can be broken down monthly and weekly as anything more than £833 per month or £192 per week while NI would be payable on any earnings over £153 per week.
You may also still have to pay the taxman even if you only work abroad over the summer. UK Income tax will still be payable if you earn over your personal allowance in a foreign country while you will still be liable for NI contributions if you are employed abroad by a UK firm.
Thankfully, there are a few simple rules that students planning on working abroad should follow to ensure they don’t end up out of pocket.
- Keep track of your income: Income tax is only deducted from your income so when calculating your yearly earnings you can discount funds from grants, student loans or parents. It is also important to keep track of what you earn while abroad so you have a record when you return.
- Fill in the forms: This may seem like a laborious task when you are planning a big trip abroad, but it will keep you right in the long run. Filling in the paperwork, which can be downloaded from the HMRC website, means there is less chance of paying too much tax.
- Seek advice: If you are planning to work abroad over the summer get in touch with HMRC or a dedicated tax advisor such as SBP and explain your situation. Each person’s situation can differ so it is best to get tailored advice to your own circumstances.
- Claim tax back: For anyone who has paid too much tax it may not be the last you see of your hard-earned cash. Contact the HMRC or visit the tax office on Ruby Place in Aberdeen too see if you could be due a rebate.
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