Which enterprises must pay employer's National Insurance contributions at the highest rate?

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Employers which operate within certain industry sectors are generally not eligible to use the reduced rate when calculating employer's National Insurance contributions. These activities are referred to as being ‘sector-exempt’.

The sector-exempt industry sectors are energy, transport, airports, steel, synthetic fibres, finance and insurance, as well as head office functions and certain consultancy services within a group of enterprises. Activities within these sectors are exempt from the general scheme concerning differentiated employer's National Insurance contributions. If you carry on activity within an exempt industry sector as an employer, you will generally have to apply the highest rate in all zones.

Many of the sector exemptions are specified using industry codes (NACE codes). The various industry codes include a description of the activities which come under the respective code. As an employer, you must assess whether your enterprise’s activities are covered by a sector-exempt industry code. When a sector exemption is defined by an industry code, the decisive factor is whether the activity, when viewed in isolation, is covered by the industry code’s description. For a more detailed description, see the description of the individual industry codes (NACE codes). 

Employers who carry on activity within sector-exempt industries are allocated a contribution-free amount. The contribution-free amount means that the employer can nevertheless use differentiated rates up to a given contribution-free amount. For more information on contribution-free amounts, see the Directorate of Taxes’ report on employer’s National Insurance contributions to the National Insurance scheme.

 

The following rates apply to employers which carry on sector-exempt activity:

Zone

Rate

I

14.1%

Ia

10.6% (contribution-free amount NOK 500,000)*

II

10.6% (contribution-free amount NOK 500,000)*

III

 6.4% (contribution-free amount NOK 500,000)*

IV

 5.1% (contribution-free amount NOK 500,000)*

IVa

 7.9% (contribution-free amount NOK 500,000)*

V

 0% (contribution-free amount NOK 500,000)*

* Employers must use a rate of 14.1 percent once the contribution-free amount has been used up. You should also note that employers who carry on the activity ‘road freight transport’ have a lower contribution-free amount.

If as an employer you carry on sector-exempt activity, you must report using calculation code ‘Sector-exempt activity’ in the a-melding (with the exception of road freight transport, which must use the calculation code ‘Road freight transport’). 

Production of steel and synthetic fibres

The steel and synthetic fibres sectors are defined in Annex II and IIa to the ESA’s guidelines for regional aid 2014-2020, Directorate of Taxes’ report on employer’s National Insurance contributions to the National Insurance scheme. 

The transport sector

The transport sector encompasses the following industry codes:

49.1 Passenger transport by rail

49.2 Freight transport by rail

49.31 Transport by bus and rail in urban and suburban areas

49.39 Other land passenger transport

49.41 Freight transport by road , rental of trucks with driver

50 Shipping

51.1 Passenger transport by air

51.21 Freight transport by air

Thus, the transport sector does not cover all forms of transport. For example, taxi transport (industry code 49.32), relocation transport (industry code 49.42), post and distribution (industry code 53) and storage and other services linked to transport (industry code 52) are not covered by the sector exemption.

For a more detailed description of the activities that are covered by the codes, see the Directorate of Taxes’ report on employer’s National Insurance contributions to the National Insurance scheme. 

The transport of company goods as part of commercial activity (inhouse transport) is covered by sector-exempt transport if the type of transport concerned is itself covered by an exempt industry code.

Airports

The sector exemption ‘airports’ covers industry code 52.23.

The activities which are exempt are those which are linked to infrastructure and services which are necessary to carry on the transport of passengers and freight by air. This applies to all activities under industry code 52.23.

If as an employer you carry on other activities at airports in zones with a reduced rate, such as restaurant activity, you can apply the reduced rate to salaries relating to such activities.

Energy sector

The exemption covers industry code 35 Electricity, gas, steam and hot water supply.

The sector exemption does not cover all energy-related activities. For example, mining and extraction, including oil and gas production, are not covered. The repair, troubleshooting and maintenance of power stations is also not covered.

Finance and insurance sector

The exemption concerns industry codes 64 Financing activity, 65 Insurance activity, 66 Services linked to financing and insurance activity. The industry codes cover activities within the banking and insurance sector.

Head office services and certain consultancy services within a group

The exception applies to the following industry codes:

70.10 Head office services

70.22 Business consultancy and other administrative consultancy (within a group of enterprises)

This sector exemption only applies to enterprises which are part of a group of enterprises and where the services are provided within the group.

The exemption does not cover activities linked to legal assistance and representation, auditing and tax consultancy.

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