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HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

Tax treatment of Parish and Community Council Clerks in England and Wales: assessment of payments to clerks

Parish councils and town councils (sometimes known as Community Councils in Wales) usually have only one paid officer, the Clerk. The great majority of these Clerks work part-time, their hours varying from one to two days per week to a few hours per quarter in connection with Parish Council meetings.

The Clerk is an office holder and emoluments received, whether described as an honorarium, a salary, a payment towards expenses or a combination of these, are chargeable to tax as employment income and are earnings for Class 1 NIC purposes. PAYE must be operated by the Parish Council on the income the Clerk earns. A Parish Clerk can never be considered self-employed for tax or NIC purposes. This is the same position as for any office or employment; there is no other acceptable tax treatment applicable to Parish Clerks.

In practice, most Clerks’ remuneration is expressed as a certain sum per year on the understanding, though this is not always explicitly stated, that the Clerk meets any expenses incurred in performing the duties from that sum. Occasionally, however, a council will, in addition to making a fixed payment to a Clerk, make reimbursement for all or some of the expenses the Clerk meets on its behalf. Parish Council Clerks are generally paid in accordance with a formula related to the number of people in the parish.