The Widening Access Training scheme (WAT) was developed for NHS workers to save tax and national insurance.
In fact in many cases the training was free of all tax and NI, the problem has been in its operation.
We have clients in 2 different NHS trusts, they initially got refunds, then had to repay the refunds, and then got refunds direct from HMRC.
Unite have information on their website..
NHS Payroll departments have been contacting staff who may be eligible to receive a refund of Tax and National Insurance (NI) contributions, paid in error, whilst they were in full-time education.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have stated that employed staff also in full-time education are exempt from Tax and NI up to an annual allowance on earnings of £15,480, whilst in training, provided they meet the following conditions:
The claimant must have been:
- An existing NHS employee when starting a training scheme (this could have been at another NHS organisation).
- Looking to widen their knowledge.
- In full-time attendance at an educational establishment for at least one academic year, and must have attended the course for at least 20 weeks in that academic year. If the course is longer, the employee must attend for at least 20 weeks on average in an academic year over the period of the course.
Claims for refunds of tax and NI can be made for the period September 1999 to March 2013.
HMRC normally only accept refund claims for the previous 6 tax years. However, this restriction has been extended back to September 1999, to coincide with the start of a specific training scheme; the Widening Access Training Scheme.
This the advice from HMRC to NHS Payrolls
Responsibility for refunds
Training courses attended before 6 April 2013
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will deal with the refund if your employee attended a qualifying WAT course starting before 6 April 2013.
You should submit claims to HMRC on behalf of your NHS employees, providing full details of all eligible workers.
Trusts/authorities should notify HMRC by submitting a schedule by email to the mailbox. email@example.com
Workers have been advised to contact you to confirm if you’ve already sent a claim to HMRC on their behalf. You may need to ask them for further information or evidence to support their application for a refund.
Training courses attended after 6 April 2013
If workers attended a qualifying WAT course starting on or after the 6 April 2013 the refund should be dealt with by you through your payroll system.
Training course only
If an employee attended a qualifying WAT course and is entitled to a refund, you should complete a Full Payment Submission (FPS):
- Enter the full amount of training income paid to the employee in the field ‘Value of payments not subject to Income Tax or NICs in pay period’.
- Enter the tax code for the year.
- Don’t complete any of the NICs fields.
Training course and paid work
If the employee did a combination of training and paid work and is entitled to a refund for the training income, you should complete an FPS:
- Separate the training income from the earned income.
- Subject any additional earnings to Income Tax and NICs in the normal way.
- Enter the amount of training income received in the field ‘Value of payments not subject to tax or NICs in pay period’.
- Enter the tax code number for the year.
If you’ve already sent your final FPS for the years starting 6 April 2014 onwards, you should complete an Earlier Year Update.
The main HMRC links are
Its easy to see why there is confusion!
Hopefully, all those on the WAT schemes will get the correct refunds