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General Chat Thread, Personal use of school laptops and tax in General; I've seen it said many many times that if someone uses their school laptop at home then it becomes taxable. ...
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    plexer's Avatar
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    Personal use of school laptops and tax

    I've seen it said many many times that if someone uses their school laptop at home then it becomes taxable.

    I thought I go and find a definitive answer on this from hmrc and I found this:

    For example, where a computer is provided by an employer because it is necessary for an employee to be able to carry out the duties of the employment either at home, or whilst travelling or at work, it is highly unlikely that any private use made of that equipment will be significant when compared with the business need for providing the computer in the first place. In these circumstances section 316 will apply and no tax charge will arise.

    Taken from:

    http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/eimanual/eim21613.htm

    So it would seem that it is not.

    Ben

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    Well i would have thought it wouldn't because it belongs to the school. Also if you are working at home its a workplace still.

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    plexer's Avatar
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    Yes but it revolves around personal use of the laptop i.e online shopping, ebay etc... not when they are using it for work purposes.

    Ben

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    As I understand it, how much tax you're likely to pay depends on how much the machine is used for personal use and how much for work. Given that a laptop is worth (say) 300 and lasts for 3 years, the maximum benefit a person could have is 100 a year. Given that it's not used at home for more than a small fraction of the year and only for personal use for a small fraction of that, you can estimate that the "personal" bit is worth perhaps 25. Tax on this would then be about 5 and I suspect that HMRC just don't think it's worth the hassle trying to collect bits of money!

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    The argument would be that you choose to bring it home to do work. Your place of work is not going to say that it is vital you do so. So, in theory it is exactly the same as having the use of a company car. But the IR has more pressing demands, so I wouldn't expect a knock on the door.

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    The arguement about personal use tends to stem around those staff that refuse to bring the laptop into school and treat it as their own. They then treat their primary use of the laptop as a personal machine.

    The definition of primary use is given where their job specifically requires them to work away from their standard workplace. There is no contractual obligation for the home to be a workplace for staff so it cannot be said that the primary reason for staff to have the laptop is to be able to complete work at home on behalf of the school, the primary role of the laptop is an aid to T&L.

    Since LfT has now gone (grant 31a is rolled into Devolved Capital Formula) there is no specific remit for laptops to be provided for staff to be provided with equipment that allows for flexible methods using using personal computers at home and at school. It is now purely up to the school how access to the equipment is decided, within reason.

    Guidance our finance staff have been given (under FMSiS) is that providing facilities for staff at home that may be used for a higher majority of time for personal use rather than work use means that it is taxable, even if it is *not* used for personal use the majority of the time.

    Then again ... as previously mentioned ... we have also been told that there is little chance of it all being chased up unless there is clear evidence of kicking the *rs* out of it (buying more laptops than staff, etc)

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    contink's Avatar
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    Ultimately this strikes me as a useful tool with which to beat abusers of equipment provided by the school for school work when they do as GD pointed out, use it for personal use and school can go hang.

    In instances like that it's a useful stick to regain a unit and force compliance "or else"

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    Working from home also raises other issues. I have staff who have stated they will refuse to use the remote access facility unless the school pays for a broadband connection for them. In many ways this is quite a reasonable attitude IMHO, especially as some live in places where broadband over copper isn't available so would require a satellite link.

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    john's Avatar
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    I use it as an arguement to stop them getting them, evil I may be, but its for a clever reason, we would have the issue of of "oh pants I left my laptop at home so I can't teach as ive no PC for the projector / children etc" and that kind of thing, and a few of them would do that so we'd need enough laptops x2 to cover all the forgetfull staff, so its not worth it for the hassle it could and most likely would casues.

    The other reason as I've seen before is staff really can't be bothered with buying there own home PC as they think the school laptop will do fine so why should they bother with spending 300 on one, and the school laptop comes with free IT support unlike the one from PC world, although I must admit I do my best to assist where I can with all PCs.

    Also the finance team have enough work on without having the extra tax work to do, and that scares even the most persistant moaners off when there told its a taxable benifit in kind, they instantly go on no i don't want one then as we don't get paid enough to afford to be taxed on it! I had one once say well you in IT probably get one each and use it for your own personal needs and never work, I was like I may have the use of one but I won't be using it for personal needs at all, thats what I buy my own computer for at home, and besides I use my own home computer for work stuff and even have bits of my own computer in my work computer to make my work easier and more efficient without any cost to the school so I wouldn't think they would dare charge me 60p tax if I checked my personal email on it for 2 minutes say on a train as I'd send them a bill for all the personal bits in my PC at work.

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    enjay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plexer View Post
    Yes but it revolves around personal use of the laptop i.e online shopping, ebay etc... not when they are using it for work purposes.
    While that seems eminently sensible, it has the glaring hole of personal use of desktop PCs in school. Some of our staff don't have Internet access from home, so use Hotmail or whatever in school - should we be taxing them for that?

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveT View Post
    I have staff who have stated they will refuse to use the remote access facility unless the school pays for a broadband connection for them.
    Liken that to the school's responsibility to buy glasses (as discussed on here before). If they can prove that the Internet connection will be solely for school purposes and is essential to their job, then the school should pay for it, otherwise not. (and if they can actually manage to prove that, personally I think they have earned the money!!)

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    And I bet where your using licensed software, a lot of staff are breaking the agreement by allowing other family members to use their laptop.

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    Last edited by GrumbleDook; 8th March 2008 at 01:06 PM.

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    Whats defined and an insignificant use then?

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    Surely, though, if you wanted to get around the issue, you could simply issue the laptops with an official prohibition on any use of the machines other than for school-related purposes, but with an un-official policy of not enforcing the ban, as long as such use is reasonable, appropriate and legal.

    I suppose this might not be the 'right' thing to do, but it is a way around it. I know if I was a teacher and I was going to be taxed because I took a laptop home to work on it, I would be refusing to take the machine home, and therefore, to do work from home.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crc-ict View Post

    I suppose this might not be the 'right' thing to do, but it is a way around it. I know if I was a teacher and I was going to be taxed because I took a laptop home to work on it, I would be refusing to take the machine home, and therefore, to do work from home.

    It's worth reading the HMRC document above. The numbers in the example are slightly weird - assumes a value of 4,000 for a laptop - but the calculations are straightforward. If you have a 400 laptop and you use it for personal purposes for 40% of the time then you get these numbers:

    Annual value of the computer 20% x 400=80 (you are charged tax on 20% of the original value)
    Less business use (60%) 48
    Net taxable earnings 32

    If you pay tax at 40% then you owe HMRC the princely sum of 12.80 per year. If you pay standard rate tax then you owe little more than a fiver a year - it's really not worth getting upset about, even if you have to pay it!

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