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OFT intros simpler terms for Home Computing Initiative

Less red tape, no income tax liability

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The Office of Fair Trading has cut at least some of the red tape tangling up employers trying to implement schemes which allow staff to work from home using company PCs.

OFT yesterday unveiled a consumer credit licence that will, for the first time, cover employers' Home Computing Initiative (HCI) schemes and allow firms to loan computer equipment to employees free of any income tax liability.

Under the terms of the Group Licence, OFT now considers the agreements between employers and employees participating in the schemes will be consumer hire agreements as regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

The OFT said employers will be covered by the group licence so long as they are undertaking activities within its terms.

However the government agency added that the Group Licence will cover only those agreements between "employers who provide or make available to their employee/s or a member of their employee/s' family or household, computer equipment under an employee benefit scheme designed to allow the employee to take advantage of any income tax exemption for that benefit, in particular that provided by Section 320 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003."

Penny Boys, OFT executive director, said: "The group licence enables employers to provide home computing benefits to staff without requiring them to apply individually for a consumer credit licence for this purpose."

Whitehall is to launch guidelines next week for employers planning to implement HCI schemes on 19 Jan. ®

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