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HMRC internal manual

Employment Status Manual

Particular occupations: Returning Officers etc

SS (Categorisation of Earners) Regulations 1978 (SI 1978 No.1689) Regulation 2 and paragraph 10 in Part III of Schedule 1


The fees received by Returning Officers and their staffs for duties performed at parliamentary and local elections are chargeable to tax as employment income.

For NICs purposes, employment as Returning Officers, Counting Officers, and anyone employed by them is specifically disregarded by the above Regulations.

Special arrangements for deduction of tax have been agreed centrally and apply to payments for electoral duties connected with the conduct of European Assembly, Parliamentary, County, Regional, Islands Area, Northern Ireland Assembly, District, London Borough, English Parish and Welsh Community Elections and all referenda.

Electoral duties include those of:

  • Returning Officers and their deputies
  • Acting Returning Officers and their deputies
  • Presiding Officers
  • polling clerks
  • counting assistants
  • all others engaged in the conduct of these elections or referenda.

The arrangements do not apply to payments to Electoral Registration Officers and their staffs for compiling the electoral register. The guidance at EIM61300 onwards applies to such payments.

Arrangements for deduction of tax

Special arrangements have been negotiated centrally to ensure that tax is deducted from payments to Returning Officers and their staffs without imposing the full range of PAYE duties on ‘employers’ or Districts. Details of these arrangements are given at PAYE70280.