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HMRC internal manual

Employment Status Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Particular occupations: voluntary organisations - workers for voluntary organisations

Before tax can be charged under the employment income rules and liability for Class 1 NICs arises, there must be either an office or an employment and an emolument/earnings from that office or employment. A person who does voluntary unpaid work for a voluntary organisation, for example a charity or local society, will not normally be engaged under a contract of employment and will not normally be the holder of an office. It follows that reimbursement of any expenses incurred by voluntary workers in doing the work of the organisation will not give rise to liability to tax. Similarly, voluntary workers will not be liable to tax on the reimbursement of the extra cost they might incur because they undertake such work, for example the expenses of travel between home and the place where the work is done.

If expenses are paid which do more than reimburse the costs incurred, or are at scale rates (see EIM05200) which cannot reasonably be regarded as merely a reimbursement of what they spend, the voluntary workers may be receiving remuneration for their services. If so, the excess will be chargeable under Schedule E/as employment income if it can be shown that they hold an office or employment. If they do not hold an office or employment, liability might arise under Section 687 ITTOIA 2005.

Officials elected under the constitution of bodies such as social clubs hold an office - see ESM2504.

See ESM4531 below for voluntary workers who work under a contract of employment.