RTI - The Taxman has you in his sights

Beaters and pickers-up are as much a part of shooting as gun dogs and a slice of game pie and, with just days to go before the start of the grouse season, the taxman has them in his sights.

For years, beaters have worked on many shoots on a cash-in-hand basis with many estates viewing their services as casual labour and exempt from tax.

Estates which host regular shoots and regularly re-hire the same beaters will now find that HM Revenue and Customs view the situation rather differently. With the introduction of the Real Time Information system (RTI), the employer now has to submit details of all beaters and pickers-up within seven days of being paid, rather than retrospectively.

In an attempt to crack down on what they refer to as the black economy, HMRC regard beaters who work on a regular basis for the same shoot as employees rather than casual labour, which means they may be liable for tax.

Predictably, the new regulations are complex. For estates that are shooting fairly frequently, the position is reasonably clear; their beaters are treated as employees and they must be paid under deduction of tax.

However, estates shooting one or two days a week where beaters are engaged only by the day - with no commitment to come on other days - and who are paid at the end of each day at a total of less than the applicable thresholds a week, can be paid without deduction of tax by the estate. Beaters are then responsible for declaring the tax themselves. Payment of an existing full or part-time keeper through PAYE can also complicate the procedure.

Grouse moor owners will already have made arrangements for the start of their season on the 12 August. Now is the time for pheasant and partridge shoots to be getting organised.

In response to this situation, Land Factor has introduced a payroll service for the benefit of estate owners and shoot managers by which it collates employee information for each beater, ascertaining their National Insurance number and then administers their tax payments. If the correct information is not provided, then payment will be stopped. We have also written to beaters and pickers-up on a number of estates to request all the required information prior to the First Shoot enclosing forms for completion.

Land Factor Associate, Jonathan Landale said, This is a complex issue and it has implications for pheasant shoots in October and November. We can offer you practical and comprehensive advice on how to handle all the issues this raises, so do please get in touch with either Jonathan Landale or Sarah Spears, Land Factor's Client Account Manager, if you would like to discuss the subject further.

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