Farmworker housing rules may change

4:15pm Wednesday 12th February 2014

By Anne Perks

FARMERS who provide accommodation for their farm workers are being warned about possible changes of legislation on tax charges.

A recent report by the Office of Tax Simplification on employee benefits and expenses highlighted changes to tax when accommodation is provided to employees.

It highlights tax exemptions on accommodation should only be provided when necessary for the performance of a worker’s duties. Chartered accountant Saffery Champness suggested that, in an age of greater mobility, this could mean a changing of the rules.

The report gave specific references to agricultural workers as examples and Saffery Champness claimed this highlighted that any changes would likely affect agricultural businesses.

The firm said farm estate workers, labourers and shepherds could come under the banner of the changes being discussed.

Mike Harrison, partner at the firm, said there were likely to be more announcements regarding the proposals in the near future.

He said: “This will be one of those things which will arrive on your desk without warning.”

Catherine Desmond, also a partner at the firm, said: “We anticipate that changes in relation to tax charges on living accommodation could be included in the 2014 Budget as a quick win for tax simplification.

“Consequently it would be sensible for farm and estate owners who provide such benefits to review their own arrangements.

“We suggest taking professional advice before having appropriate discussions with those employees who may be affected by possible changes to their benefits in future.”

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