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TonyTax, Tax Consultant
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Experience:  Inc Tax, CGT, Corp Tax, IHT, VAT.
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- my husband works as a contractor United Nations

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Hi - my husband works as a contractor for the United Nations in Afghanistan. Are his earnings automatically tax exempt or does it depend how much time he spends out of the UK?

He worked for them first for just 5 weeks in Jan/Feb 2014 but has been working with them all the time since April 2014, only returning to the UK every 2 - 3 months for 10 - 14 days.

I also need to know how to declare his income on his self assessment return.  That is what I have had conflicting advice from HMRC about!


If your husband is an independent contractor, it is unlikely that he will be exempt from tax on his earnings from the UN. See the notes starting here and, in particular, RE2415.

As far as the 2014 tax return is concerned, provided he didn't exceed the permitted number of days in the UK as dictated by Table E on page 53 of RDR3 here between the date he started the contract in January/February 2014, he should qualify for split year treatment for 2013/14 under the statutory residence test rules which you can read about here and here. There are some useful flowcharts here.

As far as the 2014 tax return is concerned, complete the residence/remittance pages SA109 which you can find here. I would not include the UN earnings in the employment pages SA102. You should put a note in the white space explaining who your husband works for and to ask for his case to be referred to the Business International, Tax Treaty Team for an assessment of his tax status. They will almost certainly ask for a copy of your husband's contract.

I hope this helps but let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for your reply. Wow this is complicated, especially for a lay person.

I need to check exact number of days in UK in Jan/Feb 2014. So are you suggesting that we don't insert UN earnings anywhere on the self assessment form and instead simply complete the residence/remittance forms and ask for referral?

Re 2014/15 do we need to do anything specific or complete any forms in readiness for self assessment next time round? Or would we tackle this once we have been referred?

Thanks for your help.


If your husband hasn't exceeded the number of days back in the UK between when he started the job and 5 April 2014 his UN earnings will be exempt from UK tax in any event. I don't include foreign earnings in my client's tax returns where they are non-UK resident. In your husband's case, I would mention them in the white space for notes.

As far as 2014/15 is concerned, wait until you have a decision from HMRC as to the tax status of the UN job.
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