Payroll Processing: What does it really involve?


Payroll is not simply a payroll run exercise that one carries out using a payroll software package which automatically calculates the employees’ taxation and social security contributions and produces the FS5 documents as well as the annual FS3s and FS7s to be submitted.

Besides ensuring that the employees are registered with Jobsplus and Inland Revenue Department (IRD), taxed at the correct and most beneficial rates of taxation (single, married or parental rates as applicable) and deducting the National Insurance contributions (NI) as well as paying its employer’s share of NI and maternity fund contributions in time, the employer must also be well versant with the various regulations/legal notices in place that may affect its employees’ level of taxation and hence the whole payroll run.

A few of these to be considered are the following:

1. Women returning to employment

It is important to be well aware of this rule that benefits women returning to work after their maternity leave or after a certain number of years.  A tax credit of up to a maximum of EUR 2,000 is available for women who have been absent from work for 5 years and have a child under the age of 16 or for every child born from 1st January 2007 onwards. The tax credit may only be set-off against the tax on employment income but may be availed of over a period of two consecutive years of assessment commencing from the year of assessment during which the return to employment occurs. Instead of utilising the tax credit of EUR 2,000, a mother can opt for one year tax credit (up to a limit of EUR 5,000.00) in respect of every child if the income is from employment. This also applies in the case of self-employment.  Specific forms will need to be enclosed with the Personal Income Tax Return so that the tax credit can be availed of. Lastly, it is important that once a woman returns to work a revised FS4 should also be submitted.

2. Highly Qualified Persons

Employing companies licensed with the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) or Transport Malta (TM) may employ senior individuals occupying certain key positions (specifically outlined in the regulations) who may avail from tax benefits pertaining to the Highly Qualified Persons Rules. Such senior employees may opt to pay tax at the Flat Rate of 15% on employment income & fringe benefits derived in respect of work or duties carried out in Malta (or in respect of any period spent outside Malta in connection with such work or duties). Certain conditions need to be fulfilled before this beneficial tax rate can be applied. RA17 form would need to be completed and endorsed by the respective authority.

3. Fringe Benefits

The term Fringe Benefit refers to any benefit provided or deemed to be provided by reason of an employment or office.

Only fringe benefits listed in the regulations are subject to tax. The regulations determine the value of the benefit for tax purposes. Most common fringe benefits relate to company cars, car cash allowances and provision of accommodation to employees.

A recent change occurred in the Share option Scheme.

The value of the benefit is the excess, if any, of the market price of the shares if sold on the date when benefit is provided over the option price of the same shares. This benefit is being taxed at the special flat tax rate of 15%.

Not all fringe benefits are subject to tax: Below is a list of just a few exemptions.

  • The cost of travel for business purposes including a reasonable subsistence allowance;
  • Cost of travel between Malta and Gozo;
  • Cost of business related training;
  • Subscriptions in respect of an employee’s membership to a professional body;
  • And others.

4. Part Time Rules

These apply to full-time students, apprentices, full-time employees and pensioners.

The benefits and conditions to apply these rules are namely the following:

  • Income from part time is taxed at 15% up to EUR 10,000 i.r.o. employment income / Euro 12,000 i.r.o. self-employment.
  • Once EUR 10,000 is exceeded, normal tax rates will apply
  • Part time activity can be either employment or self-employment
  • Employee must be registered with Jobsplus
  • Full time and part time employment must not be carried out with the same employer or employers within the same group of companies
  • Part time employment cannot exceed 30 hours per week.

Due to the above and many other considerations that one needs to be aware of during payroll processing, outsourcing the payroll to a professional service provider whose payroll and tax department work hand in hand and are continually updated with new regulations, is the recommended way forward. Besides confidentiality and continuity, this is one important advantage of outsourcing your payroll.

About the Authors

This article has been co-authored by Christabelle Agius –  Team Leader- Accounting Services, Christopher Caruana – Assistant Team Leader – Accounting Services, Jacqueline Mc Intyre – Accounts Executive and Nicola Albanozzo – Accounts Assistant.

For further assistance please contact our Payroll Team on [email protected] or +356 2557 2557.