Employees are to be taxed if they are tested for coronavirus by their employer, it has emerged.

HMRC has confirmed that coronavirus screening will be classed as a 'benefit in kind' for workers, with employees facing income tax if they receive the tests sponsored by their companies.

Mel Stride MP, Treasury Select Committee chairman, has now written to Rishi Sunak raising concerns about the tax, particularly for low-paid staff and those who may have to be tested regularly as part of their jobs. 

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He argued that the charges could deter people from taking up testing offered by their companies if they thought they would have to pay for doing so. 

In the letter, The Conservative MP told the Chancellor: " HMRC guidance yesterday clarified that employees will face a taxable benefit in kind when their employer pays for COVID-19 testing.  

"Given that many employers will require these tests on a regular basis, especially in health care settings but also in many other industries (such as hospitality), the tax bills could soon mount up and this does not seem to be a helpful policy at this time."

He added: "As you know testing for COVID-19 is an essential precaution and supports our contact tracing systems and it is vital to carry out as much testing as possible to ensure we can return to a normal economy.

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"I think this policy risks deterring workers from taking employer sponsored tests. Many of those affected will be in front line jobs in hospitals and other similar settings, and it seems wrong that a disproportionate tax burden should fall on them at this time." 

The issue was also raised this morning by Mr Stride in the House of Commons chamber.

Mr Sunak thanked the MP for "raising this issue with me" and added: " Of course I will look into it very quickly."