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Low Intensity Trainees

A number of Low Intensity Trainees have contacted the Trust to express disappointment at the decision that the Low Intensity course does not meet the criteria to apply tax exemption under the Widening Access to Training Scheme (WAT Scheme) rules.

This page will explain the Trust’s decision, based on our application of HMRC’s rules.

The Trust e-mailed HMRC in June/July 2016 to ask them to advise whether the High and Low Intensity courses met the criteria under the WAT Scheme. HMRC advised that they could not make that decision on the Trust’s behalf despite being supplied with details of each courses attendance requirement, the requirement for case load etc. HMRC instead referred the Trust to the 2 attached documents – a flow chart and a document called “lines to take”.


NHSWAT Tax Instructions Dec 16 v3.pdf

HMRC's Lines To Take.pdf


The Trust has used the above information in its technical application of HMRC WATS rules – the criteria is ‘black and white’ i.e. to qualify for tax exemption the course has to be full time. This should not be confused with the employment contract i.e. whether a member of staff is employed full or part time is irrelevant. If the course is not full time, then the WAT Scheme tax exemption rules do not apply.

We have had confirmation that:

  1. The High Intensity course if registered as full time.
  2. The Low Intensity course is registered as part time.

The Low Intensity Scheme therefore does not meet the criteria.

A number of Low Intensity Trainees have told us that other Trusts have requested refunds from HMRC on behalf of their Low Intensity Trainees and that these Trainees have since received their refunds. Our Trust has been provided with the name of one of these Trusts. We will be contacting them to understand the basis of their request to HMRC for refunds to be made to Low Intensity trainees. It’s worth knowing that HMRC will make refunds against submissions from employers on the basis that the employer is responsible for following the rules as stated and is assured that the course meets all of the necessary WATS requirements. The fact that other NHS’s Low Intensity Trainees may have had refunds, doesn’t in itself prove correct application of the rules, however if this Trust finds evidence that supports the Low Intensity course being treated as a WAT Scheme (such as, application of other tax exemption regulations, of which we were not aware), then it will of course review its decision and respond accordingly.

In terms of Low Intensity Trainees contacting HMRC direct to make their own individual claim for a refund, it is unlikely that HMRC will accept these claims. Instead HMRC requires employers to make request for refunds on behalf of staff. The Trust has advised HMRC that it will not be submitting a request for refunds to be made to its Low Intensity Trainees, as it does not believe they comply with the criteria for WAT Scheme tax exemption rules to apply.

Please be advised that unfortunately we are unable to reply to individual emails and telephone calls on this subject. The Trust position is clear and whilst we appreciate that the outcome may be disappointing to you, it has been reached following HMRC defined criteria.

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