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Large tax rebates possible for thousands of nurses

Nurses who took part in an NHS training scheme could be eligible for tax rebates that may be worth thousands.

Nurses who took part in an NHS training scheme could be eligible for tax rebates that may be worth thousands.

Since 1999, the NHS in England has been running the Widening Access Training (WAT) scheme, aimed at broadening the professional knowledge of nurses and other health service staff.

On a full-time training course held at a college or university, staff should receive tax and national insurance exemptions.

Huge rebates

But it has emerged that some staff have been wrongly taxed or they have paid too much national insurance as the courses have been treated as paid work.

Financial website MoneySavingExpert.com said it has been contacted by a ‘constant stream’ of NHS staff, including one public health nurse who received a rebate
of almost £6,000.

‘This is potentially huge,’ said MoneySavingExpert.com managing editor Guy Anker.

‘We believe this could affect tens of thousands of people.

‘It’s a complex issue with caveats, but a lot of nurses are going to fall into the eligible category and it’s important that they take this chance.’

Check your eligibility

To be eligible, nurses must have been an NHS employee during the WAT course and:

  • Enrolled on a full-time course for at least one academic year.
  • Attended a course run by an education establishment, such as a university, for at least 20 weeks.
  • Any payments received must have been only for studying or training, not working (so payments received for working during the holidays or bank shifts do not count).
  • Income received was less than £15,480. But some staff who earned more have had successful claims.

Julie Cunliffe, a health visitor from Bolton, successfully received £1,600 in a national insurance (NI) rebate, and is waiting to hear if she will receive a tax refund.

‘I spent that time training to put more knowledge and evidence into my work,’ she told Nursing Standard.

‘We’re not getting any pay rises and a lot of nurses have to get a second job – so it’s vital to get rebates that we shouldn’t have been paying in the first place.’

Mr Anker advised nurses to find proof of training and earnings paperwork, such as P60s.

HMRC told Nursing Standard nurses should first contact the payroll department of the NHS trust they were working for at the time of the training, before taking their case further.

Refund could affect tax credits

A spokesperson warned that a refund on NI and tax could affect the nurse’s eligibility for a state pension, and affect tax credits received at the time.

Unite national officer Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said members have been contacting the union for advice on the issue.

‘They shouldn’t have been taxed in the first place – it is a mistake by HMRC originally. We urge the HMRC to get its act together and pay NHS staff what they deserve if they meet the criteria.’


Further information

Moneysavingexpert.com NHS tax reclaim guide

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