Have you heard of the Vocational Training Tax Relief scheme? No? Neither have many members of the NPC or indeed a large number of institutions, it would appear!
What is it, you ask? It is a scheme that allows some students tax relief on fees and other payments, relating to training, even if you are not paying tax. You must fulfill all of the criteria below:
- home student
- over 30
- attending a 1 year course, full time
- course must be vocational
If you are an international student then if you are resident for a minimum of 183 days and fulfill the rest of the criteria then you will also be eligible.
The scheme entitles those eligible to a 23% (basic rate) reduction in fees and other such payments eg: exam fees, assessment fees, payment for award / certificate, printed course material and audio, vvideo and computer based materials, provided on the course.
However, according to the Inland Revenue advice to UEA, normal academic courses qualify. Cranfield states that all MSC courses are eligible and students complete the necessary forms at registration. Durham also does this, for all Masters courses.
The intention of the scheme is that it should be implemented, once the student has been accepted. Relief should be provided by deducting at source, so that the student pays directly the reduced fee raate. The Institution then claims the money back from the Inland Revenue.
It would appear that many Institutions have failed their students by not informing them of the scheme's existence. Although, it seems that even the Institutions are unaware of the scheme.! This is nnot acceptable!
York University Finance Department stated that it was not its "responsibilty to disseminate information to Graduates". It is now rebating, respectively, following Graduate Student Association action. Indeed, Edinburgh University graduates are having difficulty in getting the necessary administration done by the University. It would be interesting to know how Institutions expect their studeents to find out about the VTR scheme!!
In my quest for information, I discovered that some tax offices had not heard of this scheme either! Another sent me an out of date leaflet from 1994! Surely it is in institutions' best interests to ppromote this scheme, which would encourage more students to do more study and bring in extra income?
More information can be obtained from leaflet IR119, (1996 edition) from your local tax office. Alternatively:
FICO (Advice on Schemes)
St John's House, Merton Road
Bootle, Merseyside L69 9BB
Telephone: 0151 4727037