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Personal Tax

Personal Tax

On the P11D checklist it says " Note blackberrys/pdas/iphones are reagrded as computers and may not qualify under phone exemption".

Does this mean that I may have to pay tax on my iphone, when clearly I use it as a phone, not just a remote email device?


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30th Apr 2012 12:44


HMRC have since backed down on that particular point. They say that smartphones are exempt (if you're only provided with the one phone).

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30th Apr 2012 12:46

HMRC recently changed thier view

HMRC recently changed their view on this. They now accept that Blackberries and smartphones fall within the mobile phone rules. See this article 

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30th Apr 2012 13:04

I'd be cautious about applying this for Blackberries

Whilst the AWeb article refers to Blackberries, HMRC's brief and the amended pages to the Employment Income Manual only refer to smartphones. It doesn't indicate whether they'd consider blackberries to be included in that term though.

The legislation defines a mobile phone as being "designed or adapted for the primary purpose of sending and receiving spoken messages".  The designers of the Blackberry clearly had another primary purpose in mind.

At this stage I'm still advising Blackberry users to sign a policy saying that any private use is incidental, so that it still gets exempted under the accommodation, supplies and services used for work purposes exemption.

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30th Apr 2012 13:22

Not sure I can get my head around the

concept that an Iphone/android/blackberry's main function is not for phone calls.  Perhaps I am a bit of a technophobe or something....but the thought of doing long emails, or doing significant internet research on one of these devices cannot be further from my thoughts....thats why i have a laptop!?  (I would like to see someone knock out 100 words a minute on a blackberry....) 



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01st May 2012 09:16

a bit of paranoia on here

A blackberry is a smartphone.

Exactly the same as an iphone, HTC, Samsung etc.

How can you apply a different logic to smartphones and Blackberries?

Its called paranoia!

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01st May 2012 09:49

How can you apply different logic to smartphones & Blackberries

The Legislation wrote:

a mobile telephone is apparatus "designed or adapted for the primary purpose of sending and receiving spoken messages" 

Ask a 3-year old what this is for:

HMRC EIM21779 wrote:

Where apparatus is clearly designed or adapted for the primary purpose of transmitting and receiving spoken messages and is used in connection with a public communications service, the fact that it can also be used for other functions will not prevent it from falling within the meaning of “mobile phone.”

This means that smartphones will fall within the meaning of “mobile phone.” It is worth noting that certain devices that were primarily designed and adapted as Personal Digital Assistants (“PDAs”) in the past have evolved over time so that many modern consumer PDAs are likely to be smartphones. It is also worth noting that this is an area of rapidly changing technology and it is not possible to be certain about the application of the definition of “mobile phone” to future or new forms of smartphone.

It is important to note that there are many types of devices that have telephone functionality which do not qualify as mobile telephones. The definition does not cover apparatus that is designed or adapted for a primary purpose other than transmitting or receiving spoken messages, even if that apparatus is also capable of being used in this way.

Examples of apparatus that does not fall within the definition of a mobile phone include satellite navigation devices, devices that are solely PDAs and tablet and laptop computers.

Note that HMRC don't explicitly refer to Blackberries, as they once did.

I'd call it caution as opposed to paranoia

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01st May 2012 16:51

@steve - I presuming you are looking for the

word 'keyboard'?  But you have only shown half the 'smartphone'....if i took a picture of a 22inch computer monitor on its own, i suspect a 3 year old would identify it as a TV....

My argument is not necessarily with you but with the general implication (as it was) that a smartphone has a primary purpose other than being used as a phone.  The last time I looked the tariff prices related primarily to the number of minutes airtime available....('the spoken word') and then the texts/internet download.  


And the fact that something has a keyboard in itself proves an Abacus to a calculator....sure the calculator has some electrices in it but its prime function  is still for adding up. 







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01st May 2012 21:53


I'm not arguing. I accept that I could very well be wrong.

I was defending the accusation of paranoia made after your post.

My point is that the test of the legislation is not what the primary purpose of the device actually is in practice, but what primary purpose the device has been designed for.

My suggestion is that because a Blackberry has been given a "hard" QWERTY keyboard, rather than a numeric keypad, then absent explicit instruction to their staff in HMRC's manuals, it can still be argued that the designers had a primary purpose in mind other than that of making voice calls.

I accept that with other smartphones you have a "soft" keypad that can be either QWERTY or numeric depending on the orientation of the device, but that's because they can, rather than a specific design feature.

My only concern is that HMRC haven't referred to Blackberries specifically, and that a Blackberry might well fit into the exclusion set out in the final sentence of the penultimate paragraph that I've quoted from their manuals.

My point was just that if such a device is provided to an employee primarily for a business purpose you can protect the position by making sure that you get it within the S.318 exemption as a fall back, by having an appropriate usage policy.

I don't see such a suggestion as paranoid, as J Cresswell suggests, but merely prudent.

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By Hansa
01st May 2012 21:54



I'm not subject to the whims of the Revenue personally and so have read the above simply out of curiosity ... and with a growing sense of dsbelief.   A couple of thoughts for what they are worth: -There have been 'phones with keyboards going back to the late '90's (Nokia 9000 being my first in '98).  They were not 3G (but could incidentally collect emails over GSM) ... and send faxes!  Would the 'Communicator' be a PDA or  'phone?  - I would say a 'phone as I hardly used the "office" function.  My current 'phone (Nokia E7) also has a keyboard ...  Like the 9000 but it is far from being a PDABlackberries were promoted from around 2001/2 as providing comms for the busy executive ... but they were primarily phones (I first had one in 2002) and would not have dreamt of using it for other than phone service, reading emails when out and perhaps the odd 1 line response. The examples the Revenue give ("satellite navigation devices, devices that are solely PDAs and tablet and laptop computers")  seem as far from a Blackberry as you can get in terms of functionality and use as a 'phone, as to make comparisons laughable The average Smartphone (the glass topped blocks) seem to me the least like my perception of a 'phone and in fact are the hardest to use as a phone! I had one of the HTC devices a couple of years ago and truly hated it.  

Does the Revenue really not have anything better to do with it's time? 

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02nd May 2012 11:01

I accept your point Steve...and it is

 prudent way to approach things.  In the end this sort of paranoia is caused by the revenue attempting to move the goal posts without having any kind of business accumen at all.

When i visit voda'fone''phone'warehouse....'Phones'4U etc I am going to the store to primarily buy a 'phone'.  Or putting it another way....can you imagine the situation.....I buy my little hatchback car with back seats that fully fold down....can I then call this a van because I happen to fold the seats down all of the time and can effectively fit 'cargo' in the rear.....(yes i know the van vs car issues....) but you get my drift....its a question.....its primary function is to carry passengers not cargo.  Find me a phone that has a primary function other than to call people....ah yes that is a laptop/ipad etc..... 


I wonder whether this 'change in heart' has come as a result of hmrc providing smartphones to its employees.....


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