Belfast Telegraph

Students in summer jobs are hit by change to tax scheme

By Claire McNeilly

It can be hard enough to get by these days when you're a student subjected to a recent hike in fees and the soaring cost of living.

But now the Government has made things that little bit harder by closing a payment loophole which means they face tax bills for the first time.

Thousands of Northern Ireland students in summer jobs will struggle with the move recently announced by HM Revenue and Customs.

And that's because it means income tax will be deducted from wages as if they were regular staff on a company's PAYE payroll.

Politics graduate Connor Daly (24), from Armagh, who is also Queen's Students' Union vice-president, is one of the many local students affected.

"Under the bill, income tax will be deducted from student wages as if they are regular year-long staff, but many may only be able to work during university holidays," he said.

"Claiming back the income tax from their salary could take a lot longer than HMRC might think.

"It causes unnecessary stress for students, many of whom may be interning unpaid elsewhere and working multiple jobs to get by."

Previously, cash-strapped students were able to fill in a special form P38(S) and give it to their boss. This prevented them from having to pay any basic rate tax at 20% – since most were unlikely to earn more than their personal allowance – currently £9,440, across 12 months. It only applied to students working in the summer, Christmas or Easter holidays, not those who had a year-round job.

However, a new computer system – called 'real-time information' which sees companies send regular updates on employees' tax payments to HMRC since April – has led to its demise and students themselves must claim back income tax taken from their salary.

An HMRC spokesman said: "The new real-time system allows us to correct any overpayments and underpayments of tax much sooner than we could before."

Any student whose paid work means they earn less than £9,440 in this tax year can claim it back.

They must ask for a P45 when their summer job ends, which will show how much income they have earned and tax paid.

The refund can then be claimed by filling in a P50 form at hmrc.gov.uk.

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