Bonus payouts for Sainsbury’s staff are to be brought forward to beat the introduction of the new 50% tax rate.

The grocer’s 1,200 highest earners will have the bonus payments brought forward by three months, meaning they will pay the current rate of 40%, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

The move will see chief executive Justin King, among others, save tens of thousands of pounds. He was last year paid more than £2m, including an £869,000 bonus. If the higher tax had been in force, he would have paid an extra £86,900 in tax.

The Government will raise the tax on all personal income above £150,000 from 40% to 50%.

Sainsbury’s staff who have the potential to earn more than £150,000 are to receive performance related bonuses in late March, 12 weeks earlier than normal.

Sainsbury’s said the move was not linked to the 50% tax rate and instead was a trial to bring bonus payments closer to the time in which they were earned.

The company said it was “fairer” to individuals for the proportion of their bonus awards that are based on Sainsbury’s financial performance to be paid, and therefore taxed, in accordance with the rates that applied across the financial year in which they were earned.