skip to navigationskip to main content

Understanding National Insurance Contributions; Tax Year 2020/21

The annual re-rating of various National Insurance Contributions rates, limits and thresholds for the purposes of calculating Class 1, Class 2, Class 3 and Class 4 NICs liability (or voluntary payments) updates both Great British and Northern Irish legislation courtesy of section 105 of the Deregulation Act 2015.

(This section of legislation allows the passing of a single piece of legislation where a relatively small number of changes are made that are parallel to Northern Ireland and Great Britain simultaneously in alinement with the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 and the Social Security Contributions and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992 for the following tax year).

  • The Regulations came with the announcement that they make good on the Conservative Manifesto’s promise to increase the threshold at which the employee starts to pay Contributions. This will be £9,500 per annum. What the Regulations also confirm is that the point at which the employee starts to pay will deviate from the point at which the employers starts to pay.
  • The Upper Earnings Limit stays at £50,000 per annum, ‘as announced at Budget 2018’. However, the announcement at Budget 2018 was that the Higher Rate Threshold would stay at £50,000 for 2020/21.  This is the value of the Personal Allowance (£12,500) and the Basic Rate Threshold (£37,500).  This is in legislation and an indication that these will not change in the March 2020 Budget.

N.B. The Upper Secondary Threshold (UST) and the Apprentice Upper Secondary Threshold (AUST) remain aligned with the value of the Upper Earnings Limit in 2020/21.

Points to note from the above:

  • The weekly LEL is £120. This is so important for things like entitlement to sickness and parental Statutory Payments.
  • The Primary Threshold and Secondary Threshold have diverged after a number of years of being aligned. This means that the point at which the employee starts to pay National Insurance is not the same at which the employer starts to pay.
  • In line with the above statement, the annual UEL is £50,000. This value is also the Upper Profits Limit for Class 4 NICs. 

Class 2

For the self-employed, in 2020/21:

  • The small profits thresholds increases from £6,365 to £6,475 per annum and
  • The weekly rate increases from £3.00 to £3.05 per week

Class 3

This is the Class of National Insurance Contributions that can be used to fill any National Insurance ‘gaps’ that may exist. Individuals should access their Personal Tax Account to see whether any such gaps exist and whether they are eligible to pay voluntary Contributions to fill them. In 2020/21:

  • The weekly rate increases from £15.00 to £15.30

Class 4

Also, for the self-employed where profits are higher.  In 2020/21:

  • The Lower Profits Limit threshold increases from £8,632 to £9,500 per annum
  • The Upper Profits Limit remains at £50,000 per annum

There is no change to the percentage rate above the threshold which remains at 9%.