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HMRC internal manual

Double Taxation Relief Manual

Non-residents: UK income: Teachers: Foreign Language Assistants

Foreign language assistants are usually under graduates or recent graduates who come to the United Kingdom to support schools in teaching their own language and to improve their English. They are rarely trained teachers but it has been HMRC practice to accept that earnings from working as a language assistant in a school or college can be exempt under a Teacher Article in a double taxation agreement. This has been reciprocated in other countries for United Kingdom residents working as language assistants abroad. Code NT should be issued to the payer of the language assistant’s remuneration where the conditions in the Teacher Article are met (see DT1936).

DT1935 explains that some (but not all) double taxation agreements contain an Article that exempts from United Kingdom tax earnings from teaching of teachers who visit the United Kingdom from an agreement country. The agreements that are most likely to affect language assistants are those between the United Kingdom and:

  • Austria - Article 21 (DT2820)
  • France - Article 20 (DT7320)
  • Germany - Article 13 (DT8012)
  • Italy - Article 20 (DT10219)
  • Spain - Article 21 (DT17620)

A strict reading of the Teacher Articles in the agreements with Austria, France and Germany suggests that the exemption should be limited to individuals who were teachers before they came to the United Kingdom. However, in practice, HMRC does not require language assistants to be qualified teachers either in their own country or in the United Kingdom.

The wording of Article 21 of the agreement with Spain requires the visit to be made at the invitation of a school, college, etc. HMRC accepts that this and similarly worded articles can apply to language assistants appointed through a process organised by a public or other agency provided that the individual assistant is employed by a local education authority or by the relevant school or college.

Most articles require the individual to have been resident in the other country immediately before visiting the United Kingdom. So exemption may not apply to all French speaking language assistants, as they may have come from a country with which the United Kingdom does not have a double taxation agreement (e.g. Senegal) or a country where the agreement does not include a Teachers Article (e.g. Morocco).

Exemption usually applies to periods not exceeding two years. The majority of language assistants will not be affected by such a provision. However, a school or college may decide to extend an appointment or agree to re-appoint the same individual for the following academic year before the expiry of the current appointment. DT1936 gives further guidance on how to interpret this particular provision.

Exemption does not extend to earnings for work unconnected with the duties of the assistantship. A language assistant’s earnings for other paid work will therefore be taxable in the usual way.