Find guidance about Income Tax and National Insurance contributions for the NHS widening access training scheme (WATS) if you are an NHS employee or employer.
NHS staff can attend degree-level training courses to achieve a professional qualification and develop their career. Participation in these courses is often under the widening access training scheme (WATS). Participants are required to carry out clinical placements, usually with their employing NHS trust or health board.
Income Tax and National Insurance contributions are due on payments made to NHS employees attending these courses. This is because these are payments of salary and are not scholarship income.
These changes came into effect for employees whose courses start on or after 1 September 2019.
Information for NHS employees who attended an NHS WATS course
HMRC may check whether a refund is due before or after it is paid.
If you have a query about NHS WATS or your Income Tax or National Insurance contributions, you should contact the trust or health board who employed you. If you cannot contact them because they no longer exist, speak to your current NHS employer or you can contact HMRC.
Information for NHS employers
Deducting Income Tax and National Insurance contributions for courses starting before 1 September 2019
If you’re not currently deducting Income Tax or National Insurance contributions from payments and the course started before 1 September 2019, you should carry on paying your employee in this way until the course is finished.
If you’re already deducting Income Tax and National Insurance contributions, you should continue to do this.
Deducting Income Tax and National Insurance contributions for courses starting from 1 September 2019
You must deduct Income Tax and National Insurance contributions on any payments made to employees taking part in these courses.
How to deal with employees’ refund requests
HMRC no longer processes requests for tax and National Insurance contributions refunds relating to NHS WATS courses. You should not process any refund requests received after 1 September 2019.
For further information, you can contact HMRC. If you have a Customer Compliance Manager (CCM), you should contact them first.
HMRC will not ask you to pay back any refunds paid out in the past, or any Income Tax and National Insurance not previously deducted.