Goodbye Class2 Nic but low earners beware

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Class 2 NICs: changes are afoot

Class 2 NIC is finally being abolished from 6 April 2019, which means that self-employed people with losses or low profits who want to protect their state pension contribution record will have to pay Class 3 contributions, which are considerably more expensive. Will there be any alternatives?

At the same time that Class 2 NIC is being abolished, changes will be made to Class 4 NIC that may be of assistance – but not in all cases. We have no legislation as yet and so the following comments are based on the information available but may be subject to change.

Class 2 NIC currently gives entitlement to state pension, maternity allowance, bereavement benefits and the employment & support allowance. From 6 April 2019, payment of Class 4 NIC will give entitlement to these benefits.

For 2018/19, Class 2 NIC is payable at £2.95 per week or £153.40 a year, whereas Class 3 is payable at £14.65pw or £761.80pa. Class 2 NIC is payable where profits exceed the ‘Small Profit Threshold’ of £6,205, but the legislation allows the self-employed with profits below this to pay Class 2 NIC voluntarily.

From 2019/20, it has been announced that Class 2 NIC will be abolished but that for those self-employed persons with profits that fall between a new Class 4 NIC Small Profits Limit and the Class 4 NIC Lower Profits Limit will be deemed to have paid Class 4 NIC, thereby giving the person a qualifying year for benefit entitlement purposes. The Small Profits Limit will be set at 52 weeks times the Class 1 NIC Lower Earnings Limit – currently £116pw or £6,032pa.

Using 2018/19 rates as an illustration this gives the following effects:

Profits below £6,032

No Class 4 NIC Payable

Profits between £6032 and £8,423

Class 4 NIC deemed to have been paid

Profits between £8,424 and £46,350

Class 4 NIC payable @ 9%

Excess of Profits over £46,350

Class 4 NIC payable @ 2%

The 2019/20 rates will of course differ but the principle involved is clear.

As the question points out, it is not only those self-employed individuals with continuously low profits that will be affected, but also those traders who occasionally make losses or whose profits occasionally fall below the new Small Profits Limit.

Consideration will need to be given to a particular individual’s contributory record for various benefits, which will affect the decision whether to partially reduce available capital allowances claims to ensure profits reach the Small Profits Limit – something that will not be possible for those using the Cash Basis of assessment.

It would also appear that the averaging of profits (available to farmers and creators of literary or artistic works) will add to the complications.

  • Thanks to CronerTaxwise for this article

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