Sometimes visitors to the University are involved with a range of activities e.g., teaching, lecturing, coaching, or leading seminars etc. Some visitors are paid for their involvement whilst others are only reimbursed for their travel costs.
Travel expenses for visitors who receive a fee for the services they have performed
Where a visitor is paid for delivering a lecture, seminar or other service, this is generally treated by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as being an employment relationship where the payment is potentially liable to tax. Their travel costs may be reimbursed gross (i.e. the actual cost plus their tax liability) in these circumstances.
Payment of travelling costs therefore represents travel from home to work and must be made through payroll by completing a P5 form.
Visitors should be advised of the position when making arrangements for their visit. It is a matter for the visitor and the host department to agree whether travelling expenses will be reimbursed at cost or will be grossed up to take account of the tax liability.
If appropriate, tax and National Insurance will be deducted from the payment by the payroll team. It does not need to be included on a P11D.
Where a visitor travels from overseas specifically to deliver a service, travelling expenses may be paid gross, as there is a special exemption for payments in such circumstances.
Travel expenses for visitors who receive no fee for the services they have performed
This includes volunteer speakers at seminars or dinners and lecturers. They may have their travel expenses reimbursed although there is no employment relationship between them and the University. It must be clear that the reimbursement is equal to or less than the actual travel costs incurred. A round sum payment may be regarded as remuneration for their service and may be treated as taxable by HMRC.
Procedure and tax implication
Payments directly to the visitor
The visitor will need to be set up on the AP suppliers' database as an 'individual' in order for a cheque to be obtained. They can then submit an expenses claim form in the normal way.
It makes no difference if the travel expense consists of a mileage allowance or actual costs incurred e.g. air or rail fare. The amount paid for travel is not taxable and does not need to be recorded on the P11D.
Payments made direct to the visitor's employer
Travel expenses will not be liable to tax or National Insurance deduction by the University. It is not however, possible to split the payment such that travel costs are paid to the visitor's employer (without deduction) and a fee is paid directly to the visitor.
Gifts provided rather than travel costs paid
If instead of paying the visitor out of pocket travel expenses the University buys them a gift as a show of gratitude then as long as the item was not expected and is modest in value (e.g. less than £50) then this is considered to be a business gift. It does not need to be declared on the P11D.
Where a visitor claims to be self-employed you must follow the procedures laid down in the 'Employment Status' chapter of the Financial Procedures Manual (Chapter 5b). See Employment Status chapter on the Finance Division website
Clearance must be obtained from the Tax Team before they can be processed. If successful the entire payment including fee and travel expenses will be processed through the Modified payroll without deduction of tax.
An examiner setting or conducting examinations up to and including first degree level will be treated as an employee and hence if they receive any taxable benefits these must be declared by the University on the P11D. Those engaged for the supervision of masters' degrees or Doctorates may be treated as self-employed.