Who Pays Class 2 NICs?
Class 2 National Insurance Contributions are paid by self-employed people whose profits are above the Small Profits Threshold which for 2017/18 is £6,025.
If you earn below that level you are eligible for the small earnings exception (although this was abolished in 2015) which means that you do not have to pay NI but can pay voluntary Class 2 if you wish to.
If you earn above £8,164 then you pay Class 4 NI as well on your profits.
The payment of Class 2 contributions (which are currently set at £2.85 a week) enables those people who pay them access to contributory benefits (class 4 does not).
However, the 2016 Autumn Statement confirmed that Class 2 NICs will be abolished with effect from 2018/19 and the self-employed will then have to pay Class 4 (or voluntary Class 3) NICs. Class 4 NICs will then qualify for contributory benefits.
The rules around this are quite complex and there will apparently be some transitional help. But in essence, Class 4 contributions will need to be paid by the self-employed on earnings over the Lower Profits Limit.
For 2017/18 the Lower Profits Limit was £8,164 and any profit between that and £45,000 was charged at 9%. Profits over £45,000 are subject to a charge of 2% for Class 4 NICs.
Payment is Dependent on Profits
Once the Class 2 NICs are abolished a new threshold will be introduced called the Small Profits Limit. This will be equivalent to 52 x the Lower Earnings Limit. For 2017/18 this is £6,025.
Anyone whose profits fall between the Small Profits Limit and the Lower Profits limit will not need to pay the Class 4 NI contributions but will be treated as if they have paid them.
As Class 4 NICs will in future give access to contributory benefits, this in turn includes qualifying years for the State Pension.
If your earnings are below £6,025 (or the rate declared for 2018/19) then you will not need to pay NICs but can choose to pay the voluntary Class 3 NICs which are £14.80 a week.
If your earnings are between £6,025 and £8,164 (or equivalent 2018/19 levels) you do not have to pay NI but will be credited with paying Class 4 NICs.
If your earnings are above £8,164 (or 2018/19 equivalent) you will pay only Class 4 NICs at the effective rate.