With effect from 6 April 2017, the way that the Government funds apprenticeships is changing. Any UK Employer with a “pay bill” of more than £3m in a tax year will pay the new Apprenticeship Levy to assist in funding apprenticeships across the UK. Once Employers have registered and paid the levy, they will then be able to access funding of new apprentices through a digital apprenticeship service account. The Apprenticeship Levy applies to all employers operating in the UK and not just employers already employing apprentices or those who will be in the future.
There is no opt-out. UK Employers who meet the more than £3m annual “pay bill” must pay the levy regardless of number of employees, size of turnover or industry sector.
If you are connected to other companies or charities (see below), which in total have a “pay bill” of more than £3m then you are also liable.
What is the “pay bill”?
The pay bill is based on the total amount of earnings on which an employer is liable to pay Class 1 employer NIC and includes the following;
• Any remuneration including wages, bonuses and commissions
• Earnings of employees below the lower earnings threshold
• Earnings of employees under the age of 21 and apprentices under the age of 25.
How to calculate the “pay bill” amount?
At the start of each tax year, the Employer must determine its annual pay bill in the previous tax year (2016-17). If it was more than £3m then the Apprenticeship Levy is payable. If not, then the Employer must assess whether its pay bill for the current tax year is expected to exceed the limit. If the expectancy is that it will, then the levy is calculated each month from April 2017 in the same way that PAYE liabilities are reported and settled.
How much is the Apprenticeship Levy and is there an allowance?
The levy amounts to 0.5% of the Employer’s annual pay bill offset by a Levy Allowance. Employers not connected to another company or charity will have an annual levy allowance of £15,000. Hence, Employers with a pay bill of exactly £3m will have no liability as any charge will be wholly offset by the allowance.
Any payments made in respect of the Apprenticeship levy are deductible for the purposes of calculating the Employers tax liability.
Are there any restrictions?
If the Employer has more than one PAYE scheme, or where companies are connected, only a single £15,000 Levy Allowance will be available. The allowance can be shared across the schemes or companies in any manner, by notifying HMRC through the monthly payroll reporting procedure. However, you cannot change the allocation of the allowance during the tax year.
The connected company rules are the same as those used for the Employment Allowance.
How do I determine if my company is connected or not?
Basically two companies are deemed connected if;
• One company controls the other
• Both companies are controlled by the same person or persons.
The term “control” is described as where an individual has or is entitled to acquire the greater part of the share capital or voting rights in a company or the greater part of the income or assets in the event of a winding up.