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Chancellor urged to act on rules that tax workers for free Covid tests

Workers will be forced to pay income tax if their employer provides them with a Covid-19 test.

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People with symptoms can get free tests on the NHS. (Nick Ansell/PA)

People with symptoms can get free tests on the NHS. (Nick Ansell/PA)

People with symptoms can get free tests on the NHS. (Nick Ansell/PA)

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been asked to look into new rules that could see employees, especially those in the healthcare sectors, hit with an extra tax bill for the coronavirus tests they take.

Mel Stride, an MP who chairs the influential Treasury Select Committee, asked the Chancellor to look into the issue which could see tax bills for doctors and nurses “mount up”.

The rules, which were published by HMRC on Monday, say that staff should pay income tax on Covid-19 tests that are paid for by an employer.

The tests are treated as a taxable benefit in kind.

I think this policy risks deterring workers from taking employer sponsored tests.Mel Stride

“Given that many employers will require these tests on a regular basis, especially in health care settings but also in many other industries (such as hospitality), the tax bills could soon mount up and this does not seem to be a helpful policy at this time,” Mr Stride wrote.

“As you know testing for Covid-19 is an essential precaution and supports our contact tracing systems and it is vital to carry out as much testing as possible to ensure we can return to a normal economy,” he added.

“I think this policy risks deterring workers from taking employer sponsored tests.

“Many of those affected will be in front line jobs in hospitals and other similar settings, and it seems wrong that a disproportionate tax burden should fall on them at this time.

“I would be very grateful if you could look into this matter as soon as possible.”

Anyone showing symptoms of Covid-19 can get a free test on the NHS.

The rules also give free tests to anyone in Leicester and people who have been told to get one before going to hospital for surgery.

The tests can be done at a drive through testing centre or can be delivered to a person’s home.

“The Treasury is looking into this issue,” a spokesman for the department said.

PA