10. Staff Support

See also:

10.2 Subscriptions and professional fees

(a) Subscriptions to professional bodies

The University may allow payment for individual membership fees or annual subscriptions to qualifying professional bodies. This means that there is no reportable tax charge where the University makes such payments.

Payments for individual membership fees to non-qualifying bodies are treated as taxable benefits if paid for or reimbursed by the University. See section (c) following.

Departments or units are free to subscribe to professional bodies or similar organizations on a corporate or departmental basis where the reason for the subscription is to obtain access to professional literature, journals, advice, etc. in support of the work of the department. Corporate membership must be in the name of the University, department or a post (e.g. ‘The Administrator’), paid for directly by the University, and the membership address must be University premises.

(b) Qualifying professional bodies

A qualifying professional body is one that appears on HMRC's approved list.

Individual membership fees or subscriptions to qualifying professional bodies may be paid or reimbursed by the University.

Conditions for payment of qualifying subscriptions:

  • Membership is necessary in order to fulfil the duties of the role, or is required by contract of employment; and
  • The body appears on HMRC's approved list; and
  • The department or research funding concerned permits such payments to be made.

Payments that satisfy all of these conditions will be exempt from any tax liability.

If a department or research funder is unwilling to pay for a subscription that otherwise meets the criteria for acceptance then the individual may be able to obtain tax relief on the subscription paid in each year by applying directly to HMRC.

Claims by individuals for reimbursement of permitted professional subscriptions should be made via the Expenses process. Direct payments to professional bodies by departments should be made via the Payment Request process. In both cases evidence of the fee must be provided, together with a copy of the relevant part of HMRC's approved list showing the name of the qualifying professional body.


Note: The University is unable to request additions to HMRC's list. Individuals should write to the body in question and urge them to apply for inclusion directly with HMRC.


(c) Non-qualifying bodies

A non-qualifying body is one that does not appear on HMRC's approved list.

The University does not normally pay for individual membership of non-qualifying bodies as there is a tax liability. If it is considered essential for operational reasons, then a department may elect to pay for individual membership to such bodies, but only on the following basis:

Conditions for payment of non-qualifying subscriptions:

  • The department must approve the payment in principle for operational purposes; and
  • The individual must pay the subscription fee themselves then claim reimbursement on an Expenses Claim Form, supported by a valid receipt; and
  • The reimbursement will be made as a payroll payment, not as an expenses payment, with associated tax and National Insurance deducted from the payment made.


(d) Publications

Departments may subscribe to those publications that, in the view of the Head of Department (or nominated deputies), are necessary. Subscriptions should be in the name of the University, department or a post, e.g. the Administrator, paid for directly by the University, and delivered to a University address. Where it is necessary to provide a named individual then this is acceptable as long as the other conditions are met.


Note: Subscriptions for publications paid for directly by an individual or delivered to a private address will not be paid for or reimbursed by the University.


(e) Club membership

Subscriptions to clubs are generally regarded as taxable benefits by HMRC if the cost is borne by the employer. The University, therefore, does not usually pay for such memberships.

Where there is an overarching operational need for club membership, however, the rules for payments to non-qualifying bodies in section (c) above will apply.

Ordinary membership of the University Club is available to all staff. As there is no charge for membership nor limitation to certain staff groups, this is not considered to be a taxable benefit and does not need to be reported.