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Independents' Day

BMA 'alive to the issue' that Scottish GPs could be taxed as salaried

Exclusive The BMA and Scottish Government may have to tinker with the new contract to stop GPs being taxed as employees, the GPC has admitted.

Scottish GP Committee chair Dr Alan McDevitt told Pulse that the new contract, announced on Monday, retains the independent contractor model, and does not represent a move to a salaried service.

However, he said the BMA is ‘alive to the issue’ of HMRC considering the new model to be a salaried service.

If this is to be the case, the BMA and Scottish Government may have to make adjustments to the agreement, including changes to the way expenses are reimbursed.

The new Scottish contract, which will have to be approved by the profession through a ballot, will see practices having their full staff and premises expenses reimbursed and a minimum level of earnings for GP partners.

The NHS will also provide interest-free loans for premises, with a view for no GP to own their premises by 2043, and will employ staff attached to the practices.

Dr McDevitt rejected the idea that is a move away from independent contractor status, and said the BMA is taking advice to reduce the risk of GP partners being taxed as salaried. 

He told Pulse: ‘We are very alive to this issue and we did take specialist tax advice. It is a changing world but our express intention is to maintain that independent contractor status. And it will mean a certain proportion of expenses will be outside [direct reimbursement]. We have no wish to change our status and we will continue to take advice.

’We will come to the detail in stage 2, taking further advice and the Government will also be making sure that is acceptable. This is an independent contractor model.

’What HMRC will say is you can do the online calculator tool but it’s dynamic and they won’t say in advance. So the way we approach it is to take very extensive tax, accountancy and legal advice and we will make adjustments accordingly. And if they turn around and say you have to give GPs more expenses then we’ll do that.’

Pauline Hogg, the Scottish board member for the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants, told Pulse: ‘One of our concerns has been that you go so far down the line you’re almost seen as salaried, although there will be additional services on top.

‘My understanding is the BMA has been very careful in their negotiations. There are a lot of benefits that you don’t usually get as self-employed and they will have to be careful it still meets the criteria.’

A HMRC spokesperson said: ’We don’t comment on individual cases, Employment status is never a matter of choice and is always dictated by the specific facts.’

Readers' comments (10)

  • Salaried are entitled to leave,study leave,sick leave.
    matrnity which is leave accruing leave,dependants,and bank hol.
    If you are unwell on leave can claim back your leave
    Employer has a duty of care
    You can take them to an industrial tribunal.
    No resonsibility for staff,premises,work enviroment.
    No targets to hit.They must act reasonably.
    The salary on offer in Scarborough is roughly double that in Scotland.
    Just remind me of the advantages of self employed status!

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  • He told Pulse: ‘We are very alive to this issue


    BMA is alive?? wow!!!

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  • But will salaried GPs have to make similar changes, perhaps take on new roles, yet still have to pay full-whack taxes, no ability to offset expenses against tax (training, equipment, books, travel, and the rest)- need to take a serious look at equity and inequality to avoid inadvertent class divide widening, especially for those with little choice

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  • I'm afraid I don't see too many benefits to this new contract. What happens if we vote no?

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  • @David Simpson
    This question was asked at roadshow. If we vote no then essentially nothing happens -things stay the same.

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  • so, in other words, the choice offered to scottish GPs is to accept a conversion to salaried service, or to have no improvements to the package at all!
    Not much of a choice really.
    Even with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, you are allowed to be at the bad end of the scale, in the middle area, OR THIRDLY at the other end of the scale.
    But GPs don;t deserve the option to tell their negotiators the deal is not good enough and needs more work on it?
    As someone has said, you might as well take a better-paid salaried option and then give some of your money to a charity to improve the community's health, rather than slog your guts out trying to make a decent living and keep your probity up whilst trying to improve patient wellbeing in the existing 'independent contractor' system.

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  • I would have thought if the HMRC thinks you're salaried it may be difficult to prove otherwise!!
    Salaried workers can still claim professional expenses.

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  • essentiality it's a contract against the very nature of general practice- sign up to lose independent control of staff, resources. Lose control of what to spend funding on. Managed and controlled at a distance.

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  • Not sure what was negotiated - looks more like government diktat. Nothing worthwhile on offer until at least 2021. Don't know where the nurses & pharmacists are that are supposed to be going to help out. Stabilising part of a significantly reduced income while expenses increase isn't going to help recruitment. As in 2004 there is no Plan B. Bob Crowe where are you when we need you?

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  • HMRC will say you are salaried demand NI as per PAYE and probably even try to back date that. Good luck defending that one BMA

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