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You pay National Insurance contributions as you earn money. Your employer takes them from your wages before paying you. You also pay Class 2 and Class 4 contributions if you are self-employed.
What happens if I don’t pay my National Insurance?
National Insurance contributions are a form of tax paid by the UK government on your earnings. These contributions go towards a number of social security benefits and entitlements, including statutory maternity pay and the National Health Service. It’s important to note that not paying your NI can result in penalties.
The amount of NI you pay depends on your employment status and how much you earn. Most employees will have their NI payments automatically deducted from their wages by their employers under the Pay As You Earn system, while self-employed individuals pay theirs through a self-assessment tax return. You can check how much you’re paying in NI by signing up for a Government Gateway account, which will give you access to your full NI record and information on any taxes you’re paying.
You can also make voluntary NI payments to top up your NI record or fill in gaps. For example, if you’re working part-time or have had a gap in your career due to caring responsibilities, voluntary contributions can help you to close these gaps and ensure that you get the maximum State Pension when you retire. Typically, you need 35 years of NI contributions or credits to be eligible for the full State Pension. You can also use these payments to make sure you’re covered for maternity and paternity pay when you’re self-employed.
Can I get a refund if I don’t pay my National Insurance?
The Government uses the money it raises from income tax and national insurance to help pay for benefits like pensions, sick leave and bereavement payments. Most people in the UK pay NI contributions when they work, either automatically through the PAYE system or via a self-assessment tax return if they’re self employed.
Most people who earn a regular wage or salary will pay NI automatically, with the amount taken from their wages depending on how much they earn. You can also choose to make voluntary NI payments, for example if you have gaps in your NI record or are not eligible for state benefits due to the type of work you do.
If you have more than one job or are working in both employment and self-employment, you may be overpaying NI because the system treats each source of income separately, deducting NICs without reference to any paid through another source. This can lead to overpayments, and HMRC doesn’t check for this when completing a tax return.
You can carry on paying UK NI (external link) while working abroad to protect your State Pension and entitlement to certain benefits and allowances if you meet the rules. You can also pay voluntary NI contributions from abroad to top up your record if necessary. You can find out more on the HMRC website.
Can I get National Insurance credits?
National Insurance (NI) is a system of payments paid into an account that helps fund state benefits for those who are unemployed, ill, or retired. It is similar to the FICA system in the United States, which funds Social Security and Medicare.
There are many different circumstances in which you can receive NI credits, some of which are automatically credited to your record and others that require you to make a claim. For example, you can get NI credits if you’re on maternity or paternity leave, or if you’re a parent that gets Child Benefit. You can also claim NI credits if you’re the spouse or civil partner of someone who works in the Armed Forces, and if you live abroad for work.
You can also claim NI credits if your employment has ended and you’re receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit. You can also claim NI credits for periods spent on jury service.
Since April 2011, parents can transfer Class 3 NI credits to another member of the family, such as a grandparent, who looks after their children under the age of 12. You can also apply for Specified Adult care NI credits if you’re a parent that is looking after a child under 12, and this can help fill gaps in your National Insurance record.