Class 1 NIC changes extend to Class 1A contributions

It is important to bear in mind that the 1.25% increase in National Insurance contributions (NICs) for 2022-23 will apply to National Insurance Class 1 and Class 4 contributions from April 2022. This means that the increase will apply to Class 1 (employee and employer), Class 1A and 1B and Class 4 (self-employed) NICs. Those above State Pension Age are not impacted by the April 2022 changes although see closing comments on the new Levy from April 2023.

Smaller employers who benefit from the NIC employment allowance may not be affected by the increase in employer secondary Class 1 contributions if their NI bill is covered by the allowance. The employment allowance currently allows eligible employers to reduce their National Insurance liability by up to £4,000 per year. The allowance is only available to employers that have employer NIC liabilities of under £100,000 in the previous tax year.

The employment allowance cannot be used against Class 1A or Class 1B NICs liabilities and accordingly, the 1.25% increase will represent a real cost even for small employers whose Class 1 NIC bill is covered by the employment allowance.

From April 2023, these increases will be incorporated into a new ringfenced Health and Social Care Levy of 1.25%. The levy will apply to those who pay Class 1 (employee and employer), Class 1A and 1B and Class 4 (self-employed) NICs and will also be extended to those over State Pension age who are in work. The NIC rates will revert to their current level, but the increase will of course remain by way of the new levy.

Finding your National Insurance number

If you have lost or forgotten your National Insurance number you should try and locate the number on paperwork such as your tax return, payslip or P60. You can also login to your personal tax account to view, download, print, save or share a letter with your National Insurance number. 

If you do not already have a National Insurance number then you will normally need to apply for one if you are planning to work in the UK, claim benefits, apply for a student loan or pay Class 3 voluntary National Insurance contributions. You can apply for a National Insurance number if you live in the UK and have the right to work.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have launched a new National Insurance number application digital service which allows individuals to apply directly for a National Insurance number. An initial application should be made online and applicants will be advised if they need to book a face-to-face appointment. Applications are currently taking up to 16 weeks to be processed.

Self-employed NIC charges

There are two types of National Insurance contributions (NICs) payable by the self-employed. These are known as Class 2 NICs and Class 4 NICs.

Class 2 NICs are paid by all self-employed taxpayers unless they earn under the Small Profits Threshold (SPT), currently £6,515, which remove the necessity to pay NICs. Class 2 NICs are currently payable at a flat weekly rate of £3.05 for the current 2021-22 tax year. Class 2 NICs count towards payments such as the basic State Pension, the employment and support allowance, maternity allowance and bereavement benefits.

The self-employed are required to pay Class 4 NICs (as well as to Class 2 NICs) if their profits are £9,569 or more a year. Class 4 NIC rates for the tax year 2021-22 are 9% for chargeable profits between £9,569 and £50,270 plus 2% on any profits over £50,270.

There is a specific list of jobs where class 2 NICs are not payable. These are:

  • examiners, moderators, invigilators and people who set exam questions
  • people who run businesses involving land or property
  • ministers of religion who do not receive a salary or stipend
  • people who make investments for themselves or others – but not as a business and without getting a fee or commission

If you fall within any of these categories it can be beneficial to get a State Pension forecast and examine whether voluntary Class 2 NICs should be made to make up missing years contributions.

NICs after reaching State Pension Age

If you have reached the State Pension age and continue to work, in most cases you no longer need to pay employees National Insurance Contributions (NICs).

At State Pension age, the requirement to pay Class 1 and Class 2 NICs ceases. However, you will remain liable to pay any NICs due to be paid to you before reaching the State Pension age. If you continue working, you will need to provide your employer with proof of your age.

Your employer remains liable to pay secondary Class 1 employer NICs. If you would rather not provide proof of age to your employer you can request a letter (known as an age exception certificate) from HMRC confirming, you have reached State Pension age and are no longer required to pay NICs.

If you are self-employed you will need to pay Class 4 NICs for the remainder of the year in which you reach State Pension age but will be exempt from the following year.

HMRC provides the following example if you reach State Pension age on 6 September 2021. You will stop making Class 4 contributions on 5 April 2022 and pay your final Class 4 bill by 31 January 2023, together with your Income Tax.

If you have overpaid NICs you can claim the excess back from HMRC.

Claiming the NIC Employment Allowance

The Employment Allowance allows eligible employers to reduce their National Insurance liability. The allowance increased to £4,000 (was £3,000) from 6 April 2020. An employer can claim less than the maximum if this will cover their total Class 1 NIC bill. 

The allowance is only available to employers that have employer NIC liabilities of under £100,000 in the previous tax year. Connected employers or those with multiple PAYE schemes will have their contributions aggregated to assess eligibility for the allowance. The Employment Allowance can be used against employer Class 1 NICs liability. It cannot be used against Class 1A or Class 1B NICs liabilities. The allowance can only be claimed once for all employer’s PAYE schemes or connected companies. 

Since April 2020, Employment Allowance claims will also need to be submitted each tax year. This means that claims will not automatically roll over from the previous tax year as was previously the case. There are currently a number of excluded categories where employers cannot claim the employment allowance. This includes limited companies with a single director and no other employees as well as employees whose earnings are within IR35 ‘off-payroll working rules’.

Why make voluntary NIC contributions

In many circumstances it can be beneficial for taxpayers to make voluntary Class 2 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) to increase their entitlement to benefits, including the State or New State Pension if they are self-employed.

Taxpayers might want to consider making voluntary NICs because:

  • They are close to State Pension age and do not have enough qualifying years to get the full State Pension
  • They know they will not be able to get the qualifying years they need to qualify for the full State Pension during their working life
  • They are self-employed and do not have to pay Class 2 contributions because they have low profits or live outside the UK, but want to qualify for some benefits

There is also a specific list of jobs where Class 2 NICs are not payable. These are:

  • examiners, moderators, invigilators and people who set exam questions
  • people who run businesses involving land or property
  • ministers of religion who do not receive a salary or stipend
  • people who make investments for themselves or others – but not as a business and without getting a fee or commission

If you know any taxpayers that fall within any of these categories it may be beneficial to get a State Pension forecast and examine whether they should make voluntary Class 2 NICs to make up missing years.

National Insurance numbers

If you have lost or forgotten your National Insurance number you should try and locate the number on paperwork such as your tax return, payslip or P60. You can also login to your personal tax account to view, download, print, save or share a letter with your National Insurance number.

If you do not already have a National Insurance number then you will normally need to apply for one if you are planning to work in the UK, claim benefits, apply for a student loan or pay Class 3 voluntary National Insurance contributions.

However, HMRC’s guidance presently states that: You can currently only apply for a National Insurance number in England, Scotland and Wales if you have entered the UK on a visa. You cannot apply for a National Insurance number in Northern Ireland. This is due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) disruption.

You can, however, start work without a National Insurance number if you can prove you can work in the UK.  You can also apply for benefits or a student loan without a National Insurance Number.

Teenagers should automatically be sent a letter just before their 16th birthday detailing their National Insurance number. These letters should be kept in a safe place. The old plastic National Insurance cards that some of our readers may remember are no longer available.

Apply for NIC Childcare Credits

National Insurance credits can help qualifying applicants to fill gaps in their National Insurance record. This can assist taxpayers to build up the amount of qualifying years of National Insurance contributions which can increase the amount of benefits a person is entitled to such as the State Pension.

National Insurance credits are available in certain situations where people are not working and, therefore, not paying National Insurance credit. For example, credits may be available to those looking for work, who are ill, disabled or on sick pay, on maternity or paternity leave, caring for someone or on jury service.

The CA9176 form is used to apply for National Insurance childcare Class 3 credits if you are an adult family member caring for a child under 12 (usually while the parent or main carer is working). This form has been updated to include care that is being provided from a distance because of Coronavirus (COVID-19) – for example, by telephone or video if the carer was required to self-isolate. This Coronavirus measure applies to the 2019-20 and 2020-21 tax years.

Depending on your circumstances, National Insurance credits may be applied automatically or an application for credits may be required. There are two types of National Insurance credits available, either Class 1 or Class 3. Class 3 credits count towards the State Pension and certain bereavement benefits whilst Class 1 covers these as well as other benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Spring Budget 2020 – National Insurance

The new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has confirmed a Conservative manifesto promise to increase the National Insurance contributions (NIC) thresholds to £9,500. Plans to meet the manifesto pledge were first confirmed by Mr Sunak's predecessor Sajid Javid earlier this year.

The increase by more than 10% over the current year’s figure of £8,632 will apply to both the employed and self-employed. The government have also pledged to increase the threshold to £12,500 by the end of the current session of Parliament.

This means that from next month some 31 million taxpayers will benefit from this change with a typical employee saving around £104 and a self-employed person, paying a lower rate of National Insurance benefiting from a £78 cut in their NIC contributions.

The cut means that employees earning £9,500 or less will pay no National Insurance whatsoever. The government has confirmed that the threshold changes will not affect low earners’ entitlement to contributory benefits such as the State Pension, with the Lower Earnings Limit and Small Profits Threshold. The working age benefits will also be uprated in line with inflation from April 2020, ending the freeze on these benefits that has been in place since 2016.

Checking your NIC records

HMRC offers an online service to check your National Insurance Contributions (NIC) record online. In order to use the service, you will need to have a Government Gateway account. If you don't have an account, you can apply to set one up online.

By signing in to the 'Check your National Insurance record' service you will also activate your personal tax account if you haven’t already done so. The personal tax account can be used to complete a variety of tasks, for example, updating an address or managing your child benefits.

Your National Insurance record online will let you see:

  • What you have paid, up to the start of the current tax year (6 April 2019)
  • Any National Insurance credits you’ve received
  • If gaps in contributions or credits mean some years don’t count towards your State Pension (they aren't 'qualifying years')
  • If you can pay voluntary contributions to fill any gaps and how much this will cost

In many circumstances it can be beneficial to make voluntary contributions to increase your entitlement to benefits, including the State or New State Pension.