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Funding of studies by the employer.
According to Article 17 of the Labour Code, "The employer is obliged to facilitate the improvement of employees' professional qualifications." Often, the employer proposes to finance the costs of studies, courses, or seminars for employees because a more knowledgeable employee is a more efficient employee.
Improving professional qualifications is nothing more than acquiring or supplementing knowledge by the employee with their consent. An employee who wants to improve their qualifications has additional privileges, such as:
training leave, granted on working days, in the following scope:
- 6 days for an employee to take a general exam (externally),
- 6 days for an employee to take the maturity exam,
- 6 days for an employee to take a professional exam or an exam confirming professional qualifications,
- 21 days for an employee in the final year of studies who has a defence ahead of them.
release from work for all or part of the day to attend mandatory classes and for their duration.
The Labour Code does not explicitly specify what improving professional qualifications means or what forms of knowledge and skill development exist. Employees can improve their qualifications through higher education studies, postgraduate studies, doctoral studies, as well as various other types of training.
According to Article 1031 § 3, "During training leave and during the time off from all or part of the working day, the employee retains the right to remuneration."
The employer can encourage the employee to improve their qualifications by offering additional benefits. According to Article 1033, "The employer may grant additional benefits to the employee improving their professional qualifications, covering the costs of education, travel, textbooks, and accommodation."
The employer may also conclude a training agreement with the employee. According to Article 1034 § 1, "The employer concludes a written agreement with the employee improving their professional qualifications, specifying the mutual rights and obligations of the parties."
Article 1034 § 3 states that "There is no obligation to conclude the agreement referred to in § 1 if the employer does not intend to obligate the employee to remain employed after completing the improvement of their professional qualifications."
The above-mentioned additional benefits are considered as employment income of the employee and, under Article 12 of the Personal Income Tax Act of July 26, 1991, it includes all types of cash payments and the monetary value of in-kind benefits or their equivalents, regardless of the source of financing of these payments and benefits, in particular: basic salary, overtime pay, various types of allowances, bonuses, equivalents for unused leave, and all other amounts, regardless of whether their amount has been predetermined. Additionally, it includes cash benefits provided on behalf of the employee, as well as the value of other non-compensatory or partially compensatory benefits. According to Article 21 § 1 point 90 of the PIT Act, income tax is exempted from benefits granted by the employer under separate regulations for improving professional qualifications, except for remuneration received for the time off from all or part of the working day and for training leave.
The Regional Administrative Court in Wrocław issued a judgment on March 14, 2008, case no. I SA/Wr 1505/07: "Article 21(1)(90) of the Personal Income Tax Act should be interpreted in such a way that the exemption from personal income tax applies to the value of benefits granted by the employer to the employee related to improving the employee's professional qualifications and general education in non-school forms based on a referral from the employer. The term 'non-school forms' should be understood as any form of employee education not covered by school forms, such as courses, training, seminars, or postgraduate studies." In light of the above, financing studies by the employer can be considered as income for the employee, qualifying for tax exemption.
In conclusion, the value of benefits related to the development of knowledge and skills of employees is exempted from personal income tax when these are additional benefits related to improving professional qualifications. The lack of such a connection means that the mentioned exemption does not apply.
Author: Dominika Matusiak from the Bydgoszcz Branch of the Kurdynowski Accounting Office, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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