The First-tier Tax Tribunal has ruled in the case of Phelan v HMRC  UKFTT 29 (TC).
Between 30 April 2012 and 22 March 2013, Mr Phelan attended a course run by the University of Essex. He had claimed a refund of income tax and NICs deducted from his pay during this period on the grounds that he believed it constituted a bursary and was therefore exempt from income tax under ITTOIA 2005, s. 776, and from NICs under SI 2001/1004, Sch. 3, Pt. VII, para. 12. Furthermore, he believed that the money fell within a concession entitled Widening access training scheme: refunds for NHS trust workers.
HMRC had refused the refunds. The request for payment of income tax had been made out of time but HMRC had advised that the claim would have been unsuccessful in any event. Mr Phelan appealed.
The tribunal rejected the appeal ruling that:
- The income tax claim was, indeed, out of time but, in any event, the payments failed to meet the conditions for the exemption.
- Likewise, for NIC purposes the payments did not constitute a bursary so there were no grounds for exemption.
- Relief under the widening access training scheme was by HMRC concession rather than being a statutory relief and as such was beyond the jurisdiction of the tribunal. Nevertheless, for completeness, the tribunal recorded that it agreed with HMRC’s decision that the payments did not fall within the scope of the scheme.