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HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

Seafarers’ Earnings Deduction: general conditions

Section 378 ITEPA 2003

A deduction is allowed from earnings from employment as a seafarer if all of the following conditions are met in the tax year:

The tests are applied separately.

See EIM33002 for how to calculate the deduction.

European Economic Area (EEA) residents for the tax year 2011 to 2012 onwards

From 6 April 2011, entitlement to seafarers’ earnings deduction (SED) is extended to seafarers who are resident for tax purposes in an EEA state other than the United Kingdom, as long as they meet all of the conditions for this relief.

As non-UK residents, EEA resident seafarers are taxable in the UK on earnings for seafaring duties performed in UK waters. SED may be claimed only against these earnings.

EEA states comprise all of those states that are members of the European Union plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.

See EIM33010 for details regarding a claim to seafarers’ earnings deduction from a non-UK resident seafarer.

Salvage payments

See EIM70220 for details relating to salvage awards.

If the award is payable by the employer to the employee it represents part of the employee’s earnings from his employment and is taxable under section 62 ITEPA 2003 as general earnings.

If the award is payable by a third party to the employee, it may still form part of earnings within section 62. It will depend on the facts. But even if it is not taxable under section 62, it is very likely to be taxable as a cash benefit under section 201 ITEPA 2003 as in most circumstances the payment will arise ‘by reason of’ employment even if paid by a third party.

Share option gains

Seafarers’ earnings deduction is not available as a deduction to be set against gains made on the exercise of a share option. Such gains are taxable under the rules on Securities Options in Chapter 5 of Part 7 (section 471 onwards) ITEPA 2003.

Seafarers’ earnings deduction is available only against ‘general earnings’ as defined in section 7(3) ITEPA. The gain on exercise of a share option does not fall within the definition of general earnings. Rather income chargeable under Part 7 of ITEPA is defined as ‘specific employment income’ under section 7(4) ITEPA.

Deduction not exemption

Section 378 provides for a deduction from a seafarer’s earnings in order to calculate the net taxable earnings from employment. It does not exempt the earnings from tax.

More than one employment

If a seafarer has more than one seafaring employment in a tax year, he must meet the conditions for seafarers’ earnings deduction for each employment separately. For example, he will require a voyage to at least one foreign port in each employment to qualify for seafarers’ earnings deduction.

National Insurance

The deduction applies for tax purposes only. For information about seafarers’ liability to National Insurance contributions (NICs), see NIM29002 onwards.