HMRC has emailed employers ‘strongly encouraging’ them to label the increased National Insurance contributions (NICs) rate on their employee’s payslips as ‘for the NHS’
Last month the tax authority sent out a statement in its emails and bulletins to all registered employers asking them to consider highlighting the increase in order to help employees to understand what the increase would be funding.
The statement released by HMRC said: ‘We are therefore requesting that employers include a message for affected employees on all payslips between 6 April 2022 and 5 April 2023, explaining the increased National Insurance contribution. The message should read: 1.25% uplift in NICs funds NHS, health and social care’.
The email also stated that HMRC had been in contact with payroll software providers to request that they include the message in their software and wider support models.
From 2023 the rate for NICs will return to the current level and the Social Care Levy will be highlighted on payslips.
HMRC confirmed that the suggestion had been made, however it was not mandatory for employers to include the message, but it was ‘strongly encouraged’.
An HMRC spokesperson said: ‘We have asked employers to include a generic statement on all payslips from April 2022 to help employees understand the changes they will see to their contributions and that the increase will be used to fund the NHS, health, and social care.’
In response to the request, many business owners took to Twitter to express their frustration about the email with one tweeting that the tax authority was using ‘payslips as propaganda’, stating ‘if you can't sell it to the public, don't expect us to’.
The former executive chair Edward Troup of HMRC in 2016-17 also tweeted that ‘it was questionable whether the request to businesses fell within HMRC's legal powers’ as the department had asked employers ‘to push a political narrative despite it supposedly being politically neutral’.
Despite the backlash over the increase, which was announced in parliament in September last year, the government has stated multiple times that it is to continue with the move despite the current concerns over the cost of living crisis.
A large number of thinktanks, economic groups, and business bodies as well as parliamentary committees including MPs across multiple parties and members of the House of Lords, have come forward calling the government to scrap it. The Institute of Directors also launched a petition in January which received more than 180,000 signatures supporting the call for the tax rise to be abandoned.