EIM33001 - Seafarers’ Earnings Deduction: general conditions

Section 378 ITEPA 2003

A deduction is allowed from earnings from employment as a seafarer (see EIM33101) if all of the following conditions are met in the tax year:

  • the earnings are taxable under Section 15 (or Section 21 before 6 April 2008) ITEPA 2003 (general earnings for a year when the employee is ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, see EIM40101) (but see below for 2011/12 onwards)
  • the duties of the employment are performed wholly or partly outside the United Kingdom (see EIM33031)
  • any of those duties are performed in the course of an eligible period falling wholly or partly in the tax year (see EIM33004).

The tests are applied separately.

See EIM33002 for how to calculate the deduction.

European Economic Area (EEA) residents for 2011/2012 onwards

From 6 April 2011, entitlement to seafarers’ earnings deduction (SED) is extended to seafarers who are resident for tax purposes in an EEA State other than the United Kingdom, as long as they meet all of the conditions for this relief.

As non-UK residents, EEA resident seafarers are taxable in the UK on earnings for seafaring duties performed in UK waters. SED may be claimed only against these earnings.

EEA States comprise all of those States that are members of the European Union plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.

See EIM33010 for details regarding a claim to seafarers’ earnings deduction from a non-UK resident seafarer.

Salvage payments

See EIM70220 for details relating to salvage awards.

If the award is payable by the employer to the employee it represents part of the employee’s earnings from his employment and is taxable under Section 62 ITEPA 2003 as general earnings (EIM00600).

If the award is payable by a third party to the employee, it may still form part of earnings within Section 62. It will depend on the facts. But even if it is not taxable under Section 62, it is very likely to be taxable as a cash benefit under Section 201 ITEPA 2003 as in most circumstances the payment will arise “by reason of” employment (EIM20503) even if paid by a third party.

Share option gains

Seafarers’ earnings deduction is not available as a deduction to be set against gains made on the exercise of a share option. Such gains are taxable under the rules on Securities Options in Chapter 5 of Part 7 (section 471 onwards) ITEPA 2003. See ERSM110100.

Seafarers’ earnings deduction is available only against “general earnings” as defined in Section 7(3) ITEPA - see EIM00510. The gain on exercise of a share option does not fall within the definition of general earnings. Rather income chargeable under Part 7 of ITEPA is defined as “specific employment income” under Section 7(4) ITEPA.

Deduction not exemption

Section 378 provides for a deduction from a seafarer's earnings in order to calculate the net taxable earnings from employment. It does not exempt the earnings from tax.

More than one employment

If a seafarer has more than one seafaring employment in a tax year, he must meet the conditions for seafarers’ earnings deduction for each employment separately. For example, he will require a voyage to at least one foreign port in each employment in order to qualify for seafarers’ earnings deduction (EIM33031).

National Insurance

The deduction applies for tax purposes only. For information about seafarers’ liability to National Insurance Contributions (NICs), see NIM29002 onwards.