Newsletter – August 2020

Enews – August 2020

In this month’s Enews, we report on the Job Retention Bonus as HMRC publishes further details regarding requirements and what employers need to do now to claim the bonus. There have been plenty of other developments. We look at some of them here and analyse changes to tax policy and the wider economy. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate the news, there are lots of issues to update you on.

HMRC outlines Job Retention Bonus criteria

HMRC has outlined the eligibility requirements for the Job Retention Bonus (JRB) that follows the furlough scheme as part of the government’s measures to support the economy through the COVID-19 lockdown.

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends on 31 October 2020 and the JRB aims to provide additional support to employers who keep on their furloughed employees in meaningful employment.

The JRB is a one-off payment to employers of £1,000 for every employee who they previously claimed for under the scheme, and who remains continuously employed through to 31 January 2021. Eligible employees must earn at least £520 a month on average between the 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021. Employers will be able to claim the JRB after they have filed PAYE for January and payments will be made to employers from February 2021.

All employers are eligible for the scheme including recruitment agencies and umbrella companies. They should ensure that they have complied with their obligations to pay and file PAYE accurately and on time under the Real Time Information (RTI) reporting system, maintained enrolment for PAYE online and have a UK bank account.

Employers will be able to claim for employees who were furloughed and had a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claim submitted for them that meets all relevant eligibility criteria for the scheme.

They must have up-to-date RTI records for the period to the end of January and not be serving a contractual or statutory notice period, that started before 1 February 2021, for the employer making a claim.

HMRC will publish further details about this process before the end of September 2020.

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Treasury sets out next steps for Making Tax Digital

On 21 July, the Treasury set out the next steps in its plan to extend Making Tax Digital (MTD) to all businesses and those taxpayers that file self assessment returns.

Currently, businesses above the VAT threshold of £85,000 are required to comply with Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTD for VAT).

From April 2022, the initiative will be extended to all VAT-registered businesses including those with turnover below the VAT threshold. From April 2023 MTD will apply to taxpayers who file income tax self-assessment tax returns for business or property income over £10,000 annually.

According to the Treasury, the MTD changes will affect the way that taxes are reported, not the level of tax that is collected. They will help to minimise avoidable mistakes, which cost the exchequer £8.5 billion in 2018/19.

Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

‘We are setting out our next steps on MTD… as we bring the UK’s tax system into the 21st century.

‘MTD will make it easier for businesses to keep on top of their tax affairs. But it also has huge potential to improve the productivity of our economy, and its resilience in times of crisis.’

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Government announces review of business rates scheme

The government has published a call for evidence on the overhaul of the business rates system that applies in England.

The government announced at the 2020 Budget in March that it would conduct a review of the business rates system in England. It is seeking views from businesses, business representative organisations, local authorities, rating agents, others involved in the operation of the system and anyone interested in the business rates or wider tax system.

The call for evidence seeks views on how the business rates system currently works, issues to be addressed, ideas for change and a number of alternative taxes.

The government stated that it welcomes views on the multiplier and reliefs sections of the call for evidence by 18 September 2020, to inform an interim report in the autumn.

Internet link: TM Treasury consultations

Eat Out to Help Out now up and running

On 1 August, the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme began operating at eateries across the country.

The scheme was announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his Summer Economic Update. It provides a 50% reduction of up to £10, for sit-down meals in participating cafes, restaurants and pubs across the UK from Monday to Wednesday every week throughout August 2020.

Those establishments taking part in the scheme will display stickers and posters in their windows. Diners can take advantage of the offer as many times as they like during the month and do not need to present a voucher.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

‘Our Eat Out to Help Out scheme’s number one aim is to help protect the jobs of 1.8 million chefs, waiters and restaurateurs by boosting demand and getting customers through the door.

‘More than 72,000 establishments will be serving discounted meals across the country, with the government paying half the bill. The industry is a vital ingredient to our economy and it’s been hit hard by coronavirus, so enjoy summer safely by showing your favourite places your support – we’ll pay half.’

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Scottish government cuts LBTT to help home buyers

On 15 July, the Scottish government reduced the rate of Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) following a similar reduction to the rate of residential Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the recent Summer Economic Update.

LBTT is payable by the purchaser in a land transaction occurring in Scotland. SDLT applies to land transactions in England and Northern Ireland.

The threshold at which residential LBTT is paid has been raised from £145,000 to £250,000 in order to help homebuyers following the coronavirus lockdown. Announcing the change, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said that 80% of homebuyers will be exempt from paying LBTT.

Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said:

‘Overall, increasing the LBTT threshold will help increase housing market activity, boost the construction sector and stimulate our economy.

‘Alongside this distinctive Scottish approach to raising the starting threshold for LBTT, I am also targeting further support in other areas. For example, we are injecting £50m into our First Home Fund, which provides first time buyers with up to £25,000 to buy a property. This will help an estimated 2,000 first time purchases.

‘To mitigate the immediate adverse impact on the housing market in Scotland as a result of the Chancellor’s announcement, we are now working at pace on the necessary legislation and to ensure Revenue Scotland is ready to collect and manage the tax.’

Internet link: Scottish government LBTT

Wales reduces LTT rate

On 27 July, the Welsh government reduced the rate of Land Transaction Tax (LTT) following the cuts made to SDLT and LTT across the rest of the UK.

LTT is payable by the purchaser of residential or non-residential property occurring in Wales.

From 27 July 2020, the starting threshold for residential LTT rose from £180,000 to £250,000. This applies until 31 March 2021. The tax reduction does not apply to purchases of additional properties, including buy-to-let and second homes.

The Welsh government predicts that around 80% of homebuyers in Wales will pay no tax when purchasing their home, and that buyers of residential property who would have paid the main rates of LTT before 27 July will save £2,450 in tax.

Rebecca Evans, Welsh Minister for Finance, said:

‘These rates and thresholds have been set so they more closely reflect the property market in Wales and will ensure that we retain a progressive regime that expects those with the broadest shoulders to contribute a larger share in tax.’

Internet links: Welsh government website written statement

Chancellor asks OTS to review capital gains tax

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has asked the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) to carry out a thorough review of capital gains tax (CGT).

In a letter to the OTS, the Chancellor requested that the independent office review CGT and aspects of the taxation of chargeable gains in regard to individuals and small businesses.

Mr Sunak requested that the review identifies and offers advice on the opportunities to simplify the taxation of chargeable gains to ‘ensure the system is fit for purpose’.

In the letter, the Chancellor said that he would be interested in proposals from the OTS on the regime of allowances, exemptions, reliefs and the treatment of losses within CGT, in addition to the interaction of how gains are taxed compared to other types of income.

The OTS has published a call for evidence in the form of an online survey, which seeks views on CGT. The OTS wants to hear from businesses, individuals, professional advisers and representative bodies about which aspects of CGT are complex and difficult to get right, as well as suggestions on how the tax can be improved.

Internet links: GOV.UK publications letter

Overclaimed COVID grants

Taxpayers who have received CJRS or SEISS grants are urged to doublecheck their entitlement as the 90 day period to inform HMRC of any overclaimed amounts is now law.

Finance Act 2020 includes legislation that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme and coronavirus business support grants are taxable. As well as including HMRC powers to recover grant payments to which the taxpayer is not entitled and penalty provisions.

HMRC has published guidance on how to repay overclaimed grants. This guidance confirms that the onus is on the taxpayer to notify HMRC if they have overclaimed a CJRS or SEISS grant and this must be done by 20 October 2020 or 90 days of receipt of the grant, whichever is the later.

Internet links: CJRS guidance SEISS guidance

Newsletter – July 2020

Enews – July 2020

In this month’s Enews, we report on Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Summer Economic Update, which unveiled the government’s three-point plan to protect and create jobs as the economy begins to recover from the coronavirus lockdown. There have been plenty of other developments. We look at some of them here and analyse changes to tax policy and the wider economy. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate the news, there are lots of issues to update you on.

Chancellor unveils three-point plan for jobs

On 8 July, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a three-point plan to support jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic when he delivered a Summer Economic Update to Parliament.

Mr Sunak confirmed the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will end as planned this October. The Chancellor said furloughing had been the right measure to protect jobs through the first phase of the crisis. The second phase will see a three-point plan to create jobs, support people to find jobs and to protect jobs.

The CJRS will be followed by a Job Retention Bonus, which will be introduced to help firms keep furloughed workers in employment. This will see UK employers will receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021. To qualify for the payment, employees must earn above the Lower Earnings Limit (£520 per month) on average between the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the end of January 2021.

The Chancellor also launched a £2 billion Kickstart Scheme that will aim to create subsidised six-month work placements for young people aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit. Funding available for each placement will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer national insurance contributions (NICs) and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. Employers will be able to top this wage up.

In order to support the UK’s tourism and hospitality industry, the Chancellor announced a cut in the rate of VAT from 20% to 5% for the sector. This applies to supplies of food and non-alcoholic drinks from restaurants, pubs, bars, cafés and similar premises, as well as supplies of accommodation and admission to attractions, including theme parks and zoos, across the UK.

Additionally, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme will entitle every diner to a 50% discount of up to £10 per head on their meal at any participating, eligible food service establishment from Monday to Wednesday. Participating establishments will be fully reimbursed for the 50% discount.

Mr Sunak said:

‘Our plan has a clear goal: to protect, support and create jobs. It will give businesses the confidence to retain and hire. To create jobs in every part of our country. To give young people a better start. To give people everywhere the opportunity of a fresh start.’

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Stamp duty temporarily reduced

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a temporary cut in the rate of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in order to boost confidence in the flagging housing market in his Summer Economic Update.

Property transactions fell by 50% in May this year and house prices have fallen for the first time in eight years. In response, the government will temporarily increase the nil-rate band of residential SDLT in England and Northern Ireland from £125,000 to £500,000. This will apply to purchases from 8 July 2020 until 31 March 2021.

Additionally, the Chancellor announced a £2 billion Green Homes Grant, providing at least £2 for every £1 homeowners and landlords spend to make their homes more energy efficient, up to £5,000 per household. The scheme aims to upgrade over 600,000 homes across England, helping to reduce energy bills and support the green economy.

Eric Leenders, Managing Director of Personal Finance at UK Finance, said:

‘The Chancellor’s announcement on stamp duty should give a welcome boost to the housing market and in turn have positive knock-on effects for the wider economy.

‘This measure designed to re-boot the housing market builds on the wide package of support put in place by mortgage lenders, working with the regulator and HM Treasury, to help customers through these tough times.

‘The industry has a clear plan to help homeowners whatever their financial situation and is committed to providing ongoing support to those customers who need it.’

Internet link: GOV.UK publications and UK Finance press release.

Flexible furloughing starts on job retention scheme

On 1 July, changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) saw flexible furloughing introduced, so employees will no longer have to be furloughed for a minimum period of three weeks.

Following the change the CJRS has more flexibility to allow claims on a pro rata basis. Employers will be able to permit employees to work some of the week and be furloughed for the rest.

An employee needs to have been furloughed for at least three consecutive weeks between 1 March and 30 June to be eligible for furlough from 1 July. Additionally, after 1 July, employers may be subject to a cap on the number of employees that can be claimed for in a CJRS claim they are able to make.

The CJRS changes have effect from 1 July until the closure of the scheme on 31 October.

Parents returning from statutory maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave, shared parental leave and bereavement leave are broadly exempt from the CJRS furlough changes. So parents who are returning to work over the coming months will be eligible for the CJRS despite the scheme closing to new entrants on 30 June.

Additionally, from 1 August, the level of the grant will be reduced each month. From August the employer will need to pay employer national insurance and pension contributions for the time the employee is furloughed. For August, the government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to a maximum of £2,500 proportional to the hours the employee is furloughed. For September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to £2,187.50, and for October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a maximum of £1,875. During these months employers will have to top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to the £2,500 cap.

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Government expands aid for start-ups and innovators

The government has expanded its COVID-19 support for start-ups and innovative companies with the launch of a new fund.

On 27 June the government announced the Sustainable Innovation Fund (SIF), which is aimed at helping businesses to keep ‘cutting edge’ projects and ideas alive during the pandemic.

The SIF will make almost £200 million available to UK companies that are developing new technologies in certain areas. These include making homes and offices more energy efficient, creating ground-breaking medical technologies, and reducing the carbon footprint of public transport.

The government is asking research and development-intensive businesses to apply for the funding.

Internet link: Sustainable Innovations Fund

Bank of England increases stimulus package for UK economy

On 18 June, the Bank of England increased the stock of purchases of UK government bonds by an additional £100 billion to help boost the UK economy following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.The £100 billion in additional quantitative easing funds takes the total to £745 billion.

The MPC also voted to cut the cost of borrowing to a record low of 0.1%. The Committee admitted it is ‘hard to draw conclusions about the UK’s recovery prospects’ and stated that extra stimulus is needed to help boost the UK economy and push inflation.

The MPC said:

‘The unprecedented situation means that the outlook for the UK and global economies is unusually uncertain.

‘It will depend critically on the evolution of the pandemic, measures taken to protect public health, and how governments, households and businesses respond to these factors.

‘Inflation is well below the 2% target and is expected to fall further below it in coming quarters, largely reflecting the weakness of demand.’

Internet links: Bank of England’s Market Notice.

FCA confirms further support for consumer credit customers

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed further support for users of certain consumer credit products if they are experiencing temporary payment difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The measures outline the options firms will provide for credit card, revolving credit and personal loan customers who are coming to the end of a payment freeze. They also outline options for customers who have agreed an arranged interest-free overdraft of up to £500.

In addition, customers yet to request a payment freeze or an arranged interest-free overdraft of up to £500 will have until 31 October 2020 to apply for one.

According to UK Finance, its members have offered over 27 million interest-free overdrafts, provided 992,400 payment deferrals on credit cards and 686,500 payment deferrals on personal loans during the pandemic.

Christopher Woolard, Interim Chief Executive at the FCA, said:

‘Since the coronavirus crisis began, we have made support available for those borrowers financially affected by the pandemic.

‘For those who are now in a position to restart payments, it will be in their best interests to do so. But for those who still need it, the package we are confirming today ensures there is help and further support.’

Internet link: FCA press release

Private sector off-payroll reforms given go ahead for April 2021

The introduction of off-payroll rules to the private sector will go ahead as planned next April after an attempt to delay them failed in the House of Commons.

The reforms of the off-payroll rules to the private sector, which are known as IR35 and have applied to the public sector since 2017, was reviewed earlier this year.

They will shift the responsibility for assessing employment status to the organisations employing individuals.

The rules would have applied to contractors working for medium and large organisations in the private sector and were due to come into effect on 6 April this year. Due to the disruption caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus, the decision was taken in March to delay the introduction until 6 April 2021.

An amendment to the Finance Bill, brought by a cross-party group of MPs, was designed to delay the IR35 changes until 2023, but was defeated by 317 votes to 254.

The move to introduce new IR35 rules to the private sector has proved highly controversial, amid claims that the regulations are too complex and that HMRC’s online tool Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST), used to determine whether they apply, is flawed.

Internet link: Parliament website.

Late payment crisis has worsened during coronavirus lockdown

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found that the UK’s late payment crisis has worsened during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

62% of small businesses have been subject to late or frozen payments during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research carried out by the FSB. Just 10% of small firms have agreed changes to payment terms with their clients. In addition, 65% of small businesses that supply goods or services to other businesses have experienced being paid late or having payments frozen.

The FSB has called on policymakers to give the Small Business Commissioner additional powers to investigate and fine repeat late payment offenders.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB, said:

‘Before the COVID-19 outbreak struck, many small firms were already under immense financial pressure because of late payments.

‘Cash is still very much king for small firms, and withholding it has pushed many to the brink at a time when they’re at their most vulnerable. Our endemic culture of treating small businesses as free credit lines against their will must be brought to an end.’

Internet link: FSB press release.

Newsletter – June 2020

Enews – June 2020

In this month’s Enews, we report on the progress of the government’s schemes to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced important changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which will run until the end of October while HMRC has once again delayed the introduction of the VAT reverse charge. We look at the latest guidance and also analyse the impact of COVID-19 on tax policy and the wider economy. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate the economy, there are lots of issues to update you on.

Chancellor announces changes to Job Retention Scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced changes to the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS), which will be slowly wound down between July and October.

The changes mean businesses will be able to bring furloughed employees back on a part-time basis from 1 July.

Furloughed staff will continue to get 80% of their salary until the scheme finishes at the end of October. However, employers will be expected to gradually contribute more towards furloughed employees’ salaries.

The taxpayer contribution will remain at 80% during August but employers will have to pay national insurance and employer pension contributions.

In September, employers will be asked to start paying 10% towards people’s wages, which will rise to 20% in October.

JRS closes to new entrants from 30 June, but more critically, 10 June is the last date by which an employee can be put on furlough for the first time.

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General at the Confederation of British Industry, said:

‘Introducing part-time furloughing as more stores and factories start to open will help employees to return to work gradually and safely. Many more businesses will feel supported during this vital restart phase.

‘Firms understand the scheme must close to new entrants at some point and that those using it in future will need to make a contribution to help manage the costs.

‘However, previously viable firms not able to open until later, particularly in leisure, hospitality and the creative industries, may need further assistance in the coming months.’

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

COVID-19: delay to VAT reverse charge on construction services

On 5 June 2020, HMRC announced a five-month delay to the introduction of the domestic VAT reverse charge for construction services, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector.

The change will now apply from 1 March 2021 and will overhaul the way VAT is payable on building and construction invoices as part of moves to reduce fraud in the sector. Under the domestic reverse charge, the customer receiving the service must account for the VAT due on these supplies on their VAT return, instead of paying the VAT to the supplier..

The change was originally scheduled to come into effect from 1 October 2019, but was then deferred for 12 months, after industry bodies highlighted concerns about lack of preparation and the impact on businesses.

Now the start date has been put back from 1 October 2020 to 1 March 2021.

There will also be an amendment to the original legislation. Businesses are excluded from the reverse charge on relevant supplies where they are end users, or intermediary suppliers. If so they must inform their subcontractors, in writing, that they are end users or intermediary suppliers.

HMRC says the additional amendment is designed to make sure both parties are clear whether the supply is excluded from the reverse charge. It reflects recommended advice published in HMRC guidance and brings certainty for subcontractors as to the correct treatment for their supplies.

HMRC says it will continue to focus additional resources on identifying and tackling existing perpetrators of fraud in the construction supply chain. It will also work closely with the sector to raise awareness and provide additional guidance and support to make sure all businesses will be ready for the new implementation date.

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Loan size increased to £200 million under large business interruption scheme

Several changes to the CLBILS scheme have taken effect from 26 May. The government has extended the maximum loan size available through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) from £50 million to £200 million.

However, companies borrowing more than £50 million through the CLBILS will be subject to restrictions on dividend payments, senior pay and share buy-backs during the period of the loan. This will include a ban on dividend payments and cash bonuses, except where they were previously agreed.

Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

‘It is good to see the government continue to listen to business concerns and make improvements to existing schemes.

‘These important changes could make a real difference to larger firms in particular, and alongside the other lending support schemes will help ensure that more businesses of all sizes get access to the finance they need to help weather this unprecedented economic storm.’

Internet link: British Business Bank website

Future Fund launches to give start-ups coronavirus support

On 20 May 2020, the government launched its Future Fund package, which aims to support start-up businesses not eligible for other COVID-19 rescue measures.

The Future Fund offers government loans of between £125,000 and £5 million to UK-incorporated companies, provided private investors at least match the funding supplied by the state.

The package is aimed at supporting innovative early stage companies not eligible for existing COVID-19 support.

The Future Fund is administered by the government-backed British Business Bank (BBB). The loans can be repaid or converted into shares in the Investee Company in a variety of circumstances, including fundraisings, exit events and upon the maturity of the loans.

The fund is currently due to run until at least the end of September.

Internet links: Investor information and company information

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme goes live

On 26 May 2020, HMRC opened up its Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rebate claim service.

Eligible employers are able to recoup up to two weeks’ worth of SSP payments made to employees off work for COVID-19-related reasons since 13 March 2020 (16 March 2020 if the employee was shielding). This is an ongoing scheme for which an end date has not yet been announced.

The scheme is potentially worth up to £191.70 per employee that an employer has made SSP payments to for COVID-19-related reasons.

For the purposes of making a claim, it does not matter whether the employee was displaying symptoms themselves or was living with someone who was displaying symptoms. It also does not matter whether the employer topped up their earnings (although only the SSP element is eligible for the rebate).

A rebate cannot, however, be claimed in relation to employees who were furloughed at the time of illness or absence, and for whom the separate Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant was claimed.

Employers will be eligible for an SSP rebate if they had a Pay as You Earn (PAYE) scheme as of 28 February 2020, and (along with any connected employer) employed fewer than 250 employees as at that date. Employers must also be within their State Aid limits under the EU Commission temporary framework.

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Changes to insolvency and company law going through Parliament

The government is making changes to insolvency and company law as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill outlines that struggling companies will be given extra time to consider rescue plans presented to them. As part of the changes, companies will have 20 business days to consider a rescue plan, which can be extended to 40 days at the discretion of creditors or the Court.

The Bill stipulates that a company will remain under the control of directors; however, the insolvency process must be overseen by a licensed insolvency practitioner.

Additionally, restructuring plans have been introduced in the Bill, which will bind creditors and allow the insolvency process to adjust as the COVID-19 pandemic changes.

Colin Haig, President of insolvency trade body R3 said:

‘This Bill represents the biggest change to the UK’s insolvency and restructuring framework for almost 20 years.

‘The measures contained in this Bill will support the profession’s efforts to help businesses navigate the enormous economic damage caused by the pandemic.’

Internet link: Parliament website

UK sets out post-Brexit tariff regime

The UK government published its plans for a new import tariff regime following the end of the Brexit transition period.

Following its departure from the EU, the UK has the ability to set its own rules and charges.

The scheme includes the abolition of tariffs on imports worth over £30 billion, although economists say the impact on the cost of living will be small.

Some tariffs will be maintained on imported items such as beef and cars to protect British producers. Other items will have tariffs simplified, and expressed in pounds instead of euros.

Josh Hardie, Deputy Director General at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said:

‘The new tariff scheme will provide businesses with much-needed clarity on post-Brexit trade.Simplifying the system, scrapping tariffs under 2%, reducing duties on sustainable products are all things firms can work with.

‘Sticking closely to many existing tariff levels will give other countries incentive to agree trade deals with the UK.

‘However, businesses will need time to assess the detail, and ensuring there’s a system in place to address issues as they arise will be critical. Crucially, firms’ number one priority is for the government to strike a deal with the EU and ensuring continuity of existing trade deals.’

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

MPs open inquiry into £155 billion of tax reliefs

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has opened an inquiry into the UK’s management of £155 billion of tax relief.

The inquiry follows the February publication of a National Audit Office (NAO) report that identified over 300 such tax interventions, totalling £155 billion per year.

The NAO raised concerns about the effectiveness of management of tax expenditures by the Treasury and HMRC.

It found that there is no formal framework governing the administration or oversight of tax expenditures.

The NAO said that although the Treasury and HMRC have begun steps to increase their oversight of tax expenditures and more actively consider their value for money, these will not be enough on their own to address concerns.

Commenting on the inquiry, John Cullinane, Tax Policy Director at the Chartered Institute of Taxation, said:

‘We greatly welcome the PAC taking up this important issue.

‘Governance of tax reliefs in the UK is not systematic or proportionate to their value or the risks they carry. There is a mismatch between the significant effort in government and to an extent Parliament that rightly goes into new tax measures, and the relative lack of attention to how effective those measures prove over time. This is particularly the case with tax expenditures.

‘Unless HMRC and the Treasury actively monitor the use and impact of tax reliefs, and act promptly to analyse increases in their costs, we cannot assume that these reliefs will be value for money.’

Internet link: Parliament website

Newsletter – May 2020

Enews May 2020

In this month’s Enews, we report on the progress of the government’s schemes to help businesses and the self-employed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bounce Back loans for small businesses were the latest in a raft of measures announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, which are starting to make a practical difference to businesses. We look at the latest guidance and also analyse the impact of COVID-19 on tax policy and the wider economy. As the COVID-19 lockdown continues to dominate the economy, there are lots of issues to update you on.

Government launches small business micro loan scheme

On 4 May 2020 the government launched a micro loan scheme for small businesses as it continues to try and mitigate the economic damage caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme allows small businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 to apply for up to £50,000, with the government guaranteeing 100% of the advance.

Businesses can apply for a minimum of £2,000, up to a maximum of £50,000 with the government paying the interest for the first 12 months.

Businesses will be able to access the loans through the existing network of accredited lenders and the government said it expects most applications to be approved within 24 hours.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:

‘I know that some small businesses are still struggling to access credit.

‘They are, in many ways, the most exposed businesses to the impact of the coronavirus, and often find it harder to access credit in the first place.

‘If we want to benefit from their dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit as we recover our economy, they will need extra support to get through the crisis.

‘Some businesses will not want to take on more debt, which is why our focus has been on cash grants, tax cuts and tax deferrals. But for others, loans will be part of the answer.’

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Lenders relax evidence requirements for business interruption loan scheme applications

On 27 April 2020 the UK’s seven largest small business lenders announced they had relaxed their evidence requirements for applications to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

The lenders will use their own information when processing and approving applications, rather than relying on businesses providing forecasts and business plans.

In a joint statement, the seven lenders and trade association UK Finance stated:

‘The reforms to CBILS announced by the British Business Bank and HM Treasury with the support of the regulators provide welcome changes that should enable banks to provide finance to businesses more quickly alongside other forms of support including capital repayment holidays.

‘Lenders are working hard to ensure we provide support swiftly and responsibly and we will continue to work closely with customers to help them identify the finance that is right for their business and financial circumstances.

‘Following the changes to the scheme announced today lenders will only ask businesses for information and data they might reasonably be able to provide at speed and we will not require the provision of forward-looking financial information or business plans from businesses applying for CBILS-backed lending, relying instead on our own information to assess credit and business viability.’

Internet link: UK Finance press release

Job Retention Scheme goes live

On 20 April 2020 the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme went live for applications.

The scheme allows businesses to furlough their employees, with the government paying 80% of their wages up to a maximum of £2,500.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is open for four months and was backdated from 1 March 2020 to the end of June. Chancellor Rishi Sunak stated that the scheme would be kept under review and extended if necessary.

There were applications from over 430,000 employers covering over three million employees in the first week of the scheme’s operation.

The Chancellor said:

‘We’ve taken unprecedented action to support jobs and businesses through this period of uncertainty, including the UK-wide Job Retention Scheme. With the extension of the coronavirus lockdown measures… it is the right decision to extend the furlough scheme for a month to the end of June to provide clarity.

‘It is vital for people’s livelihoods that the UK economy gets up and running again when it is safe to do so.’

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

HMRC releases guidance for self-employed scheme

HMRC has released guidance on the COVID-19 Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

Under the scheme, self-employed individuals will be able to claim a taxable grant based on an average of their earnings over the past three years. To be eligible, workers must have filed all relevant income tax self assessment returns; have traded in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 tax years, and intend to carry on trading in the 2020/21 tax year. Profits, based on an average of the last three years, must be no more than £50,000, and at least equal to any non-trading income, such as employment income, dividends or rental income.

Directors of their own companies who are paid through Pay as You Earn (PAYE) may be able to get support via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

HMRC began to contact those eligible in early May and invited them to apply online. Payments are scheduled to start later in May and run for three months, but may be extended if necessary.

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Government launches support finding tool for business

The UK government launched an online platform to help businesses access financial support during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Coronavirus Business Support Finder Tool will guide businesses through the range of loans, tax reliefs and cash grants to combat the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 lockdown.

The tool asks business owners to fill out a short online questionnaire. It then directs them to a list of financial support for which they may be eligible.

The tool takes the user through various questions about their business, including location, number of employees and turnover.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:

‘We’ve launched an unprecedented package of support to protect jobs, businesses and incomes during these challenging times. Millions are already benefiting and this new online tool will allow firms and individuals to identify what help they are entitled to in a matter of minutes.’

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

OBR predicts UK economy will shrink by over a third

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has warned that the UK economy could shrink by 35% this quarter due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The OBR said that the outcome was modelled on an assumption that the current lockdown would last for three months. It stated that a three-month lockdown followed by three months of partial restrictions would trigger an economic decline of 35.1% in the quarter to June alone.

The lockdown would push up the UK’s borrowing bill to an estimated £273 billion this financial year, or 14% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

However, the OBR said extra spending by the Treasury to support the economy was crucial to limit economic damage.

The OBR’s estimate followed a global economic forecast published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which predicted a 3% contraction in global growth.

Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said:

‘This makes for bleak reading and stresses the need for the right policies to support our economy through this crisis. The need for co-ordinated global action to rebuild confidence has rarely been greater.

‘The government will also need to work with businesses and many parts of civil society here at home to create a plan to revive the economy once the lockdown is lifted.’

Internet link: OBR press release

Government borrowing could rise to £300 billion

The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) has suggested that government borrowing may rise to £300 billion in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The think tank has been working to estimate the cost of the COVID-19 crisis to the government’s finances, and has incorporated official data from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

The CPS’s COVID-19 counter has put forward an estimated £127 billion in direct bailout costs and £119 million in indirect costs, such as lower tax revenue. The data is based on the OBR’s three-month lockdown scenario, followed by three months of ‘looser restrictions’.

The CPS stated that, when these estimated costs are added to the £55 billion of borrowing already forecast for 2020, a deficit of £301 billion is produced. This represents 15% of GDP.

Robert Colvile, Director of the CPS, said:

‘The government has acted throughout this crisis to save lives and protect livelihoods. But while it is clear to everyone that extraordinary times require extraordinary measures, they also incur extraordinary costs.

‘It is vital to get the most accurate possible picture of the burden the government is taking on in order to assess the full scale of the rebuilding that lies ahead.’

Internet link: CPS press release

HMRC extends late reporting deadline for CGT

HMRC has confirmed it will not charge penalties for the late reporting of capital gains tax (CGT) on disposals of UK residential property by UK residents made by 31 July 2020.

On 6 April changes were made so that if a UK resident sells a residential property in the UK, they now have 30 days to tell HMRC and pay any money owed.

The seller must submit a standalone tax return covering the CGT, which can no longer be included as part of a self assessment return.

Failure to tell HMRC about any CGT within 30 days of completion may incur a penalty, as well as interest on the sum owed.

HMRC stated:

‘To help those selling properties familiarise themselves with the change in the rules and a new online process, HMRC is allowing a period of time to adjust and will not issue late filing penalties for CGT payment on account returns received late up to and including 31 July 2020.

‘For UK residents, this means transactions completed between 6 April and 30 June 2020 and reported up to 31 July 2020. Transactions completed from 1 July 2020 onwards will receive a late filing penalty if they are not reported within 30 calendar days.

‘Interest will accrue if the tax remains unpaid after 30 days.’

Internet link: HMRC guidance

Newsletter – April 2020

Enews April 2020

In this month’s Enews we report on legislation that has been introduced to alter reporting obligations for residential property gains chargeable on UK resident individuals, trustees and personal representatives. We also analyse the support package announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help businesses and the self-employed during the COVID-19 pandemic; regulators’ request for a delay in corporate reporting; and the delay to the introduction of the off-payroll rules to the private sector. With the government announcing many measures to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, there are lots of issues to update you on.

Chancellor’s business support packages for coronavirus pandemic

Chancellor unveils help for self-employed workers

Regulators request delay in corporate reporting

HMRC urges businesses using VAT deferral to cancel direct debits

Get ready for 30-day returns and payments for residential property gains

New tests and new car benefit percentages

HMRC delays introduction of off-payroll rules to private sector

Rise in contactless card payment limit

Chancellor’s business support packages for coronavirus pandemic

On 17 March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £330 billion package of support for the UK economy as it combats the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures dwarf the £12 billion made available in the 2020 Budget. The package includes an increase in government-backed loans, higher cash grants, widened business rates relief for some sectors and mortgage holidays for struggling homeowners. The government has extended the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme announced in the Budget from £1.2 million to £5 million, with no interest due for the first 12 months. On 3 April, the Chancellor announced changes to the loan scheme in order to make it easier for small businesses to access loans. The current Business Interruption Loan Scheme has been extended so more small businesses benefit. Lenders will be banned from requesting personal guarantees on loans under £250,000. Additionally, a new scheme has been announced to bolster support for larger firms not currently eligible for loans.

Changes to business rates as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have been put into place as well as some grants. The latest information for businesses located in England can be found here. Information for businesses in the devolved nations can be found here: Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland.

Commenting on the measures, Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said:

‘This is a landmark package of measures for business, people and jobs. The Chancellor’s offer of substantial payroll support, fast access to cash and tax deferral will support the livelihoods of millions.’

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Chancellor unveils help for self-employed workers

On 26 March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a scheme to help self-employed workers who have been hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

Under the scheme, the government will pay self-employed people a taxable grant based on an average of their earnings over the past three years. The grant will cover up to 80% of earnings, up to a limit of £2,500 a month.

To be eligible, self-employed workers must have filed a tax return for the 2018/19 tax year and have average trading profits under £50,000 for the past three years. Directors of their own companies who are paid through Pay as You Earn (PAYE) are able to get support using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The self-employed scheme will be available from June this year and will run for three months, but may be extended if necessary. In the meantime, the Chancellor said people can access Universal Credit, business loans or keep on working. HMRC will contact self-employed workers if eligible for the scheme and invite them to apply online.

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Regulators request delay in corporate reporting

Financial regulators have requested a moratorium on corporate financial reports for at least two weeks. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been communicating with the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) about a package of measures to ‘reinforce trust in the reporting system’.

These will be aimed at ensuring companies and their auditors take the necessary time to prepare appropriate disclosures and address current practical challenges. The FCA says that it is vital that investors can rely on trustworthy information from companies.

However, the FCA added that recent unprecedented events mean that the basis on which companies are reporting and planning is changing rapidly. Consequently, the regulators say companies must give due consideration to the fast-moving coronavirus crisis, and previous timetables may not give them necessary time to do this.

In a statement on 26 March, the FRC said it ‘encourages listed companies and their auditors to consider carefully whether they should delay other corporate reports for the next two weeks, such as interim financial statements and final audited financial statements, except where necessary to meet a legal or regulatory requirement’.

Internet link: FCA press release

HMRC urges businesses using VAT deferral to cancel direct debits

Businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and are seeking to make use of the VAT deferral have been urged to cancel their direct debits ‘as soon as they can’.

Businesses are advised to contact their bank to cancel their direct debits as soon as possible. UK VAT-registered businesses with a VAT payment due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 have the option to either defer the payment until a later date or pay the VAT due as normal.

A spokesperson for HMRC said:

‘For those customers who are unable to pay VAT due between 20 March and the end of June 2020, you have the option to defer that payment until 31 March 2021.

‘You will not need to apply for deferral as eligibility is automatic. Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. Please do this in sufficient time.’

The deferral does not cover VAT MOSS payments, and HMRC will not charge interest or penalties on any amount deferred. Businesses are still required to submit their VAT returns to HMRC on time.

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Get ready for 30-day returns and payments for residential property gains

Legislation has been enacted to change reporting obligations for residential property gains chargeable on UK resident individuals, trustees and personal representatives. Also introduced is a requirement to make a payment on account of the associated capital gains tax (CGT) liability. For disposals made on or after 6 April 2020:

  • a standalone tax return is required if there is a disposal of UK land on which a residential property gain accrues
  • CGT is required to be computed on the reported gain in the tax return
  • the return needs to be filed and the CGT paid within 30 days of the completion date of the property disposal.

The new requirements do not apply if a chargeable gain does not arise, for example where the gains are covered by Private Residence Relief.

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

New tests and new car benefit percentages

As part of its drive to encourage green motoring, the government has introduced a new emissions test, as well as new car benefit percentages. The scale of charges for working out the taxable benefit for an employee who has use of an employer provided car is computed by reference to bands of CO2 emissions multiplied by the original list price of the vehicle. The maximum charge is capped at 37% of the list price of the car.

In 2017, the government announced that cars registered from April 2020 will be taxed based on the Worldwide harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). Legislation has now been passed to amend the previously planned benefit percentages for 2020/21 through to 2022/23.

  • All zero emission cars will attract a reduced percentage of 0% in 2020/21 and 1% in 2021/22, before returning to the planned 2% rate in 2022/23.
  • For cars registered before 6 April 2020, the current test procedure will continue to apply and there are no further changes to percentages previously set for 2020/21. These rates will be frozen at the 2020/21 level for 2021/22 and 2022/23.
  • For cars first registered from 6 April 2020, most rates will reduce by 2% in 2020/21 before returning to planned rates over the following two years, increasing by 1% in 2021/22 and 1% in 2022/23.

The WLTP aims to be more representative of real-world driving conditions, compared to the current test known as the New European Driving Cycle. The government estimates that reported CO2 values may be, on average, about 2 – 25% higher under the WLTP when compared to the current test.

Contact us for advice on car benefits.

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

HMRC delays introduction of off-payroll rules to private sector

HMRC has delayed the introduction of off-payroll rules to the private sector as part of its measures to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reforms will shift the responsibility for assessing employment status to the organisations employing individuals. The rules would have applied to contractors working for medium and large organisations in the private sector, and were due to come into effect on 6 April. Steve Barclay, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, stressed that the introduction of the rules has simply been delayed, rather than cancelled. The rules will now take effect on 6 April 2021.

In a statement, HMRC said:

‘This is part of additional support for businesses and individuals to deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

‘This means that the different rules that exist for inside and outside the public sector will continue to apply until 6 April 2021.’

The introduction of the off-payroll rules to the private sector, which are known as IR35 and have applied to the public sector since 2017, was reviewed earlier this year. The changes were due to go ahead alongside the implementation of measures to support affected businesses and individuals.

Commenting on the delay, Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), said:

‘The government has done the sensible thing by delaying the changes to IR35 in the private sector.

‘This is a sensible step to limit the damage to self-employed businesses in this grave and unprecedented situation, but we also urge the government to do more. It must create an emergency Income Protection Fund to keep the UK’s crucial self-employed businesses afloat.’

Internet link: GOV.UK publications

Rise in contactless card payment limit

From 1 April the spending limit for contactless card payments rose from £30 to £45.

The decision to increase the payment limit was reached following consultation between the retail sector and the finance and payments industry, and echoes similar increases in other European countries.

UK Finance stated that the change had been under consideration before the outbreak of COVID-19, but has been brought forward in order to support consumers during the pandemic.

Commenting on the increase, Stephen Jones, CEO of UK Finance, said:

‘The payments industry has been working closely with retailers to be able to increase the contactless payment limit to help customers with their shopping at this critical time for the country.

‘This will give more people the choice to opt for the speed and convenience of purchasing goods using their contactless card, helping to cut queues at the checkout.’

UK Finance said that, given the pace at which the change is being rolled out, the new payment limit will take ‘some time’ to be introduced across all retailers.

Consumers spending more than £45 will be able to make use of many other ways to pay, including Chip and PIN, cash and mobile payments.

Internet link: UK Finance press release

Newsletter – March 2020

Enews March 2020

In this month’s Enews we report on a change to the sick pay rules as a result of the coronavirus and confirmation that the off-payroll working rules will be rolled out from 6 April 2020. We also consider the latest HMRC guidance on minimum wage increases, new company car advisory fuel rates, help for business flood victims and a consultation on freeports. With calls to raise taxes in the forthcoming Budget and a reminder to consider year end tax planning, there are lots of issues to update you on.

Coronavirus measure: Statutory Sick Pay from ‘day one’

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced that employees will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from day one when self-isolating rather than having to wait until day four under the SSP waiting days rules.

The change will be included in a package of measures, to be introduced by emergency legislation, to deal with coronavirus.

Updating Parliament on the Government’s response to the virus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs:

‘I can today announce that the Health Secretary will bring forward, as part of our emergency legislation measures, to allow the payment of Statutory Sick Pay from the very first day you are sick instead of four days under the current rules.

‘No one should be penalised for doing the right thing.’

The Prime Minister had earlier said:

‘We are not at the point yet where we are asking large numbers of people to self-isolate, but that may of course come if large numbers have the symptoms.

‘If they stay at home, they are helping to protect all of us by preventing the spread of the virus.’

The press release advises that the change will be a temporary measure to respond to the outbreak and will lapse when it is no longer required. We will keep you updated on developments.

Internet links: GOV.UK news GOV.UK guidance

Review confirms off-payroll working rules to go ahead from April 2020

The government has confirmed that reforms to off-payroll working rules for the private sector will go ahead from 6 April 2020.

The off-payroll rules have applied to the public sector since 2017 and the government has carried out a review of the roll-out to the private sector. The review has now concluded, and the changes will go ahead alongside the implementation of measures to support affected businesses and individuals.

From 6 April 2020, the new tax rules will use the 2017 changes as a starting point for the extension to medium and large organisations in the private sector. These reforms will shift the responsibility for assessing employment status to medium and large organisations engaging workers via an intermediary, typically a Personal Service Company (PSC).

HMRC said it will take a ‘light touch approach’ and businesses will not have to pay penalties for inaccuracies in the first year, except in cases of deliberate non-compliance.

The government will also introduce a legal obligation on organisations to respond to requested information about their size from the agency or worker, to make it clearer who is responsible for determining the worker’s tax status.

Commenting on the changes, Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

‘It is only right that the off-payroll rules are applied consistently across all sectors. Two people sitting side by side doing the same work for the same employer should be taxed in the same way.

‘Following a review, the government is announcing a package of measures to help individuals and businesses implement these changes smoothly.’

Internet links: GOV.UK review GOV.UK news

IFS calls for Chancellor to raise taxes in upcoming Budget

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to use the forthcoming Budget to raise taxes.

The think tank stated that the Chancellor either needs to raise taxes or ‘break a fiscal rule’ in order to avoid day-to-day spending cuts beyond 2021.

However, the Conservative Party’s election manifesto promised not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT.

The IFS has also called on the Chancellor to abolish Entrepreneurs’ Relief and end the ‘ludicrously generous tax treatment of capital gains at death and of inherited pension pots’.

Commenting on the matter, Paul Johnson, Director of the IFS, said:

‘Rishi Sunak’s first Budget could be the most important fiscal event in years. It will set the direction of policy for the next five years. If this new government is going to make radical changes to taxes and spending, this surely is the time to do it.

‘There are plenty of tax rises which would both raise revenue from better off individuals and improve the coherence of the tax system.’

We will update you on pertinent Budget announcements.

Internet link: FS publications

Minimum Wage increases

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) are the legal minimum wage rates that must be paid to employees. Employers are liable to be penalised for not complying with the NMW and NLW rules.

There are different levels of NMW and NLW, depending on age and whether the employee is an apprentice. The rates are due to increase from 1 April 2020 as shown in the following table:

Rate from 1 April 2019 Rate from 1 April 2020
NLW for workers aged 25 and over £8.21 8.72
NMW main rate for workers aged 21-24 £7.70 8.20
NMW 18-20 rate £6.15 6.45
NMW 16-17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18 £4.35 4.55
NMW apprentice rate £3.90 4.15

The NMW apprentice rate applies for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.

There are no exemptions from paying the NMW on the grounds of the size of the business.

The government has announced that HMRC will continue publicly naming employers that fail to pay their workers the NLW or NMW, following a review of the scheme. The naming scheme will resume calling out businesses failing to pay their workers their minimum wage entitlements.

The government has also increased the threshold for naming employers from £100 to £500, meaning that employers owing arrears of more than £500 in NMW payments to their employees will now be named.

Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst said:

‘Anyone who is entitled to the minimum wage should receive it – no ifs, no buts – and we’re cracking down on companies that underpay their workers.

‘We also want to make it as easy as possible for employers, especially small businesses and those trying to do right by their staff, to comply with the NMW rules, which is why we’re reforming regulations.’

The government is also revising the pay arrangements available to employers engaging ‘salaried hours workers’. These are workers who receive an annual salary in equal instalments for a set number of contracted hours. Under the revised rules, workers who are often paid hourly or per day and consequently receive different amounts of pay every month, such as those in the retail industry, can be classified as salaried workers. The aim of the changes is to provide more flexibility in how salaried workers are paid without reducing protections for workers.

The changes also mean that employers employing these workers are less likely to caught out by the NMW legislation due to the differences in their hours from one month to the next.

If you would like help with payroll matters please get in touch.

Internet links: GOV.UK NMW GOV.UK news

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which take effect from 1 March 2020. The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 March 2020 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 12p
1401cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 20p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 8p
1401cc – 2000cc 10p
Over 2000cc 14p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 13p

Hybrid cars are treated as either petrol or diesel.

HMRC guidance states that the rates only apply when you either:

  • reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars or
  • require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel.

The Advisory Electricity Rate for fully electric cars is 4 pence per mile. Electricity is not a fuel for car fuel benefit purposes.

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

If you would like to discuss your car policy, please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

Don’t forget to make tax efficient investments ahead of the tax year end

With the end of the tax year looming there is still time to save tax for 2019/20.

  • Make full use of your ISA allowance – ISAs can offer a useful tax free way to save, whether this is for your children’s future, a first home or another purpose. Individuals may invest up to a limit of £20,000 for the 2019/20 tax year. Savers have until 5 April 2020 to make their 2019/20 ISA investment.
  • Pensions provide significant planning opportunities. The annual allowance (AA) which is the maximum you can contribute to a pension and still get tax relief, is generally £40,000. Exceeding this can result in an AA clawback charge. However, in many circumstances individuals may have unused AA from the three previous tax years which can be used in 2019/20, providing the means of making a significant contribution without incurring a charge. Please contact us for advice specific to your circumstances.

These are only two suggestions that you may wish to consider as part of your tax planning strategy. Contact us for more information.

Internet links: GOV.UK ISAs Pensions Advisory Service AA

Freeports

The government has launched a consultation on proposals to create up to ten freeports across the UK which would have different customs rules than those which apply in the rest of the UK.

The government is considering a UK freeport model which would include multiple customs zones located within or away from a port, as well as a type of special economic zone (SEZ) designated over or around the customs zones and intends to work with the devolved administrations to develop proposals to allow freeports to be created in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in addition to those in England.

The proposals include the following customs and tariff benefits for businesses bringing goods into a freeport site:

  • duty suspension, with no tariffs, import VAT or excise to be paid on goods brought into a freeport from overseas until they leave the freeport and enter the UK’s domestic market
  • duty inversion if the duty on a finished product is lower than that on the component parts, allowing businesses to benefit by importing components duty free, manufacture the final product in the freeport, and then pay the duty at the rate of the finished product when it enters the UK’s domestic market
  • duty exemption for re-exports allowing businesses to import components duty free, manufacture the final product in the freeport and pay no tariffs when the final product is re-exported
  • simplified customs procedures for businesses accessing freeports.

Freeports are secure customs zones located at ports where business can be carried out inside a country’s land border but where different customs rules apply. Typically, goods brought into a freeport do not attract a requirement to pay duties until they leave the freeport and enter the domestic market. No duty is payable at all if the goods are re-exported.

Internet link: GOV.UK consultation

Additional financial support for flooding victims

The government has pledged thousands of pounds in additional financial support for victims of the recent floods.

The Government has announced that businesses in England affected by the floods will be eligible for 100% business rates relief for at least three months. It also stated that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have experienced severe, uninsurable losses will be able to claim up to £2,500 from the Business Recovery Grant.

The government also announced that businesses affected by flooding will be able to apply for up to £5,000 to help make them more resilient to future flooding.

Commenting on the funding, Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said:

Storm Dennis and Ciara have severely impacted a large number of households and businesses, and I recognise how destabilising this can be.

‘This extra support, including new funding, will help people in the worst hit areas to recover and get back on their feet as soon as possible.’

The announcement only applies to businesses in England. Flooding is a devolved issue for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Newsletter – February 2020

Enews – February 2020

In this month’s Enews we report on a number of areas including updates on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and the UK and Scottish Budgets. With developments on off-payroll working, overdraft fees, HMRC’s report of bizarre excuses and a new statutory entitlement to leave and pay there are lots of areas to update you on.

Brexit – transition period

The leaders of the UK and European Union signed the Withdrawal Agreement, and the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. However the UK is now in the transition or implementation period during which time it is ‘business as usual’ as the UK is covered by EU rules until the end of the year. By 2021 the UK aims to have agreed a deal on future arrangements with the EU and the rest of the world.

HMRC has contacted businesses in the UK who may import and export between the UK and the EU to explain what they can do to prepare for changes to customs arrangements after the UK has left the EU.

No change during the implementation period

Between 1 February and 31 December 2020, there will be an implementation period. HMRC has confirmed that there will be no changes to the terms of trade with the EU or the rest of the world during this time.

From 1 January 2021, the way businesses trade with the EU will change and HMRC is reminding businesses that they should prepare for life outside the EU, including ensuring they are ready for customs arrangements.

HMRC is advising businesses to:

  • make sure they have a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number
  • prepare to make customs declarations.

HMRC has posted letters to 220,000 VAT registered businesses advising them on the current position.

We will advise you on the progress of negotiations and what these will mean for your business.

Internet link: GOV.UK HMRC letters

Scottish Budget

Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, Kate Forbes, delivered the 2020/21 Scottish Draft Budget on Thursday 6 February 2020, setting out the Scottish Government’s financial and tax plans.

The current Scottish income tax rates and bands for 2019/20 and the proposed rates and bands for 2020/21 on non-savings and non-dividend income are as follows:

Scottish Bands 2019/20 Scottish Bands

2020/21

Band name Scottish Rates
£12,501* – £14,549 £12,501* – £14,585 Starter 19%
£14,550 – £24,944 £14,586 – £25,158 Scottish Basic 20%
£24,945 – £43,430 £25,159 – £43,430 Intermediate 21%
£43,431 – £150,000** £43,431 – £150,000** Higher 41%
Above £150,000** Above £150,000** Top 46%

* assuming the individual is entitled to a full UK personal allowance

* Assumes individuals are in receipt of the Standard UK Personal Allowance.

** the personal allowance will be reduced if an individual’s adjusted net income is above £100,000. The allowance is reduced by £1 for every £2 of income over £100,000.

In the 2018 Autumn Budget, the UK Government announced that the UK-wide personal allowance would be frozen at its current level of £12,500 in 2020/21. The UK higher rate tax point for 2020/21 is also expected to be frozen at the 2019/20 amount of £50,000 (for those entitled to the full UK personal allowance) and the tax rates for non-savings and non-dividend income are expected to be maintained at 20%, 40% and 45% respectively. The additional rate of 45% is payable on income over £150,000.

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax change to non-residential rates and bands

The Government announced the introduction of a new 2% band for non-residential leases which will come into effect for contracts entered into on or after 7 February 2020. The rates and bands for non-residential LBTT transactions are as follows:

Non-residential transactions

Purchase price

Rate Non-residential leases

Net present value of rent payable

 Rate
Up to £150,000 0% Up to £150,000 0%
£150,001 to £250,000 1% £150,001 to £2 million 1%
Over £250,000 5% Over £2 million    2%

Internet link:GOV.SCOT Budget

Budget Day 11 March

Chancellor Sajid Javid has announced that he will deliver the 2020 Budget on Wednesday 11 March 2020.

The 2020 Budget will be the first to be delivered after the UK’s departure from the EU on 31 January 2020.

It is also Mr Javid’s first Budget as Chancellor, following the cancellation of last November’s planned Budget due to the General Election.

Mr Javid said:

‘People across the country have told us that they want change. We’ve listened and will now deliver.

‘With this Budget we will unleash Britain’s potential – uniting our great country, opening a new chapter for our economy and ushering in a decade of renewal.’

In the Budget announcement, the government said that it will prioritise the environment, and build on recent announcements to boost spending on public services and tackle the cost of living.

We will update you on Budget announcements.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

A decade of bizarre excuses and expense claims

Vengeful witches and pet hamsters feature in HMRC’s list of imaginative excuses and expense claims, which has been published in the run up to the self assessment deadline.

HMRC has compiled a list of the weirdest unsuccessful excuses from the last decade.

The list includes one taxpayer who claimed their mother-in law was a witch who had cursed them, hamsters and dogs that had eaten the post and a taxpayer who was up a mountain without internet access.

HMRC also reported questionable expense claims including pet food for a Shih Tzu ‘guard dog’ and 250 days of claims for a £4.50 sausage and chips meal.

Commenting on the list, Angela MacDonald, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, said:

‘Each year, we try to make it as easy and simple as possible for our customers to complete their tax returns and the majority make the effort to do their’s right and on time.

‘We always offer help to those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time. It is unfair to the majority of honest taxpayers when others make bogus claims.’

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Off-payroll working

HMRC has now published draft secondary legislation for the off-payroll working rules that are due to come into force in April this year.

In 2017, HMRC introduced new off-payroll rules to the public sector, which saw some contractors’ net income cut significantly. HMRC also shifted the responsibility for compliance from individual contractors to public bodies or recruitment agencies.

From 6 April 2020, the new tax rules will use the 2017 changes as a starting point for the extension to medium and large organisations in the private sector. These reforms will shift the responsibility for assessing employment status to the medium and large organisations engaging the individual worker via and intermediary.

The new draft legislation is open for consultation until 19 February 2020.

Jesse Norman, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

‘We recognise that concerns have been raised about the forthcoming reforms to the off-payroll working rules. The purpose of this consultation is to make sure that the implementation of these changes in April is as smooth as possible.’

Internet link: GOV.UK consultations

Tax relief on professional fees and subscriptions

Employees are allowed to claim tax relief on their annual professional fees or subscriptions to some HMRC approved professional organisations. The costs are tax deductible generally where the individual must have membership to do their job or it is helpful for their work. Where the fees are paid by the individual’s employer this will not generally result in a benefit in kind charge.

HMRC has updated the list of approved bodies which also includes not only details of the professional bodies that are approved but details of qualifying annual subscriptions for journals.

Internet link: GOV.UK professional subscriptions

Changes to overdraft fees

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed it will introduce new rules in April this year that it says will make the costs of overdrafts clearer and easier to compare.

The rules will mean banks can only charge for overdraft users a simple annual interest rate – without additional fees and charges.

According to the FCA, seven out of ten overdraft users will be better off or see no change in cost.

Christopher Woolard, Executive Director of Strategy and Competition at the FCA, said:

‘Our changes expose the true cost of an overdraft. We have eliminated high prices for unarranged overdrafts.

‘This will result in a fairer distribution of charges, helping vulnerable consumers, who were disproportionately hit by high unarranged overdraft charges, and many people who use their overdraft from time-to-time.’

However, many banks have responded by hiking the interest rates they charge on overdrafts and several of the largest providers are set to introduce rates of up to 40%.

The FCA has sent a letter to the providers asking them to explain what influenced their decision and to ask how the banks will deal with any customers who could be worse off following the changes.

It said some firms could reduce or waive interest for customers who are in financial difficulty because of their overdraft.

Internet links: FCA press release FCA letter

New right to paid parental bereavement leave

The government has confirmed that parents who suffer the loss of a child will be entitled to two weeks’ statutory leave.

Under the new entitlement working parents who lose a child under the age of 18 will get two weeks’ statutory leave and where they meet the necessary conditions a legal right to two weeks’ paid bereavement leave.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom, stated:

‘The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations, which will be known as Jack’s Law in memory of Jack Herd whose mother Lucy campaigned tirelessly on the issue, will implement a statutory right to a minimum of 2 weeks’ leave for all employed parents if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy, irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer.

This is the most generous offer on parental bereavement pay and leave in the world, set to take effect from April.’

Under the new rules, parents will be able to take the leave as either a single block of two weeks, or as two separate blocks of one week each taken at different times across the first year after their child’s death.

The right to Parental Bereavement Leave (PBL) will apply to all employed parents who lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth (from 24 weeks of pregnancy), irrespective of how long they have been with their employer.

Parents with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer and weekly average earnings over the lower earnings limit (£118 per week for 2019/20) will also be entitled to Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (SPBP), paid at the statutory rate of £148.68 per week (for 2019/20), or 90% of average weekly earnings where this is lower.

The government has confirmed SPBP will be administered by employers in the same way as existing family-related statutory payments such as Statutory Paternity Pay.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Newsletter – December 2019

Enews – December 2019

In this month’s Enews we consider tax free gifts for employees, updated advisory fuel rates for company cars and tips on avoiding Self Assessment scams. We also report on the updated Check Employment Status for Tax tool and temporary pensions arrangements for some NHS staff. With guidance on cryptoassets, the latest HMRC Employer Bulletin and R&D statistics there is lots to update you on.

Making sure gifts to employees are tax-free

Some employers may wish to give a small gift to their employees. As long as the employer meets the relevant conditions, no tax charge will arise on the employee.

A tax exemption is available which should help employers ensure that the benefits provided are exempt and do not result in a reportable employee benefit in kind. In order for the benefit to be exempt it must satisfy the following conditions:

  • the cost of providing the benefit does not exceed £50 per employee (or on average when gifts are made to multiple employees)
  • the benefit is not cash or a cash voucher
  • the employee is not entitled to the benefit as part of a contractual arrangement (including salary sacrifice)
  • the benefit is not provided in recognition of particular services performed by the employee as part of their employment duties
  • where the employer is a ‘close’ company and the benefit is provided to an individual who is a director, an office holder or a member of their household or their family, then the exemption is capped at a total cost of £300 in a tax year.

If any of these conditions are not met then the benefit will be taxed in the normal way subject to any other exemptions or allowable deductions.

No more than £50

One of the main conditions is that the cost of the benefit does not exceed £50. If the cost is above £50 the full amount is taxable, not just the excess over £50. The cost of providing the benefit to each employee and not the overall cost to the employer determines whether the benefit can be treated as a trivial benefit. So, a benefit costing up to £50 per employee whether provided to one or more employees can be treated as trivial. Where the individual cost for each employee cannot be established, an average could be used. HMRC examples consider various gifts including turkeys, bottles of wine and gift vouchers.

Further details on how the exemption works, including family member situations, are contained in the HMRC manual.

However if you are unsure please do get in touch before assuming the gift you are about to provide is covered by the exemption.

Internet link: HMRC manual

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which took effect from 1 December 2019. The guidance states: ‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply’. The rates only apply to employees using a company car.

The advisory fuel rates for journeys undertaken on or after 1 December 2019 are:

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 12p
1401cc – 2000cc 14p
Over 2000cc 21p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 8p
1401cc – 2000cc 9p
Over 2000cc 14p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 9p
1601cc – 2000cc 11p
Over 2000cc 14p

HMRC guidance states that the rates only apply when you either:

  • reimburse employees for business travel in their company cars
  • require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel

You must not use these rates in any other circumstances.

The Advisory Electricity Rate for fully electric cars is 4 pence per mile. Electricity is not a fuel for car fuel benefit purposes.

If you would like to discuss your car policy, please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK AFR

HMRC offers tips on avoiding Self Assessment tax scams

HMRC is giving information to taxpayers to help them avoid scams ahead of the Self Assessment deadline.

HMRC is warning millions of Self Assessment taxpayers to be aware of fraudsters in the run up to the 31 January deadline.

Over the last year, HMRC received almost 900,000 reports from the taxpayers about suspicious HMRC contact, in the form of phone calls, texts or emails. Of these more than 100,000 were phone scams and over 620,000 reports related to bogus tax rebates.

According to HMRC the most common techniques fraudsters use include phoning taxpayers offering a fake tax refund, or pretending to be HMRC by texting or emailing a link to a false page, where their bank details and money will be stolen. Fraudsters are also known to threaten victims with arrest or imprisonment if a bogus tax bill is not paid immediately.

HMRC’s Customer Protection team identify and close down scams but taxpayers should recognise the signs to avoid becoming victims. HMRC does not contact taxpayers asking for their PIN, password or bank details. Taxpayers are warned that they should never give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in texts or emails which they are not expecting.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Check employment status for tax tool update

HMRC has issued an update to the Check employment status tool (CEST) in advance of the introduction of new tax rules proposed for individuals who provide their personal services via an ‘intermediary’ to a medium or large business. The tool is designed to give HMRC’s view of the status of contracts and has received criticism.

The new rules are expected to apply from 6 April 2020, similar rules were introduced in 2017 for public sector organisations receiving services from intermediaries, typically Personal Services Companies (PSC).

Please contact us for help and advice on whether you are caught by the new rules or should be applying the new rules to someone your business engages via a PSC.

Internet link: GOV.UK CEST

Temporary pensions tax arrangement for NHS staff

In a letter in November 2019, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has agreed to a temporary commitment to make payments to certain clinical staff outside of the NHS pension schemes to restore the value of their pension benefits package. These rules apply if they have elected to use the scheme pays facility to settle an annual allowance tax charge arising from their pension saving in the NHS schemes in 2019/20.

Meanwhile, under a temporary measure the Scottish government is introducing, between 1 December 2019 and 31 March 2020, NHS staff in Scotland who can show they are likely to breach the pensions annual allowance for 2019/20 will be able to receive pay in lieu of employer pension contributions.

The announcements follow reports that senior NHS clinicians pension tax charges are making them retire early or change their working habits. The Department of Health and Social Care estimates that a third of consultants and GPs may be turning down extra shifts because of how the NHS Pension Scheme interacts with the wider pension tax rules.

Internet links: GOV.UK letters GOV.SCOT news

HMRC issues guidance on cryptoassets

HMRC has published guidance for people who hold cryptoassets, typically cryptocurrency or Bitcoin, explaining what taxes they may need to pay and what records they need to keep. HMRC has also published further information for businesses and companies about the tax treatment of cryptoasset transactions.

HMRC advises that these papers set out HMRC’s view of the appropriate tax treatment of cryptoassets, based on the law as it stands on the date of publication and that the tax policy in this area may develop as the sector develops.

Internet link: GOV.UK tax on cryptoassets

Latest guidance for employers

HMRC has issued the latest Employer Bulletin. This issue includes articles on a number of areas including:

  • guidance for employers on reporting PAYE information in real time when payments are made early at Christmas
  • electronic payment deadline falls on a weekend
  • Ultra Low Emission Vehicle
  • High Income Child Benefit Charge deadline 31 January
  • Tax-Free Childcare payments
  • update on termination payments: Post Employment Notice Pay for employees paid by equal monthly instalments
  • workplace pensions – remember to keep paying in.

Contact us for help with payroll matters.

Internet link: HMRC Employer Bulletin

Research and Development spend

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that UK businesses spent £25 billion on Research and Development (R&D) in 2018.

Data from the ONS showed that total R&D expenditure increased from £23.7 billion in 2017 to £25 billion in 2018.

The report showed:

  • the aerospace industry saw the largest increase in R&D expenditure with a total spend of £210 million
  • the UK telecoms sector also experienced fast growth in R&D spending, increasing by 25.4% in 2018 to £192 million.

According to the ONS, the government’s funding of R&D amounted to £1.7 billion in 2018, which accounted for 6.9% of all R&D expenditure. The data revealed that machinery, equipment and shipbuilding were the biggest beneficiaries from government funding.

Internet link: ONS reports

Newsletter – November 2019

Enews November 2019

In this month’s Enews we report on an IR35 appeal, HMRC’s clampdown on enablers of tax avoidance schemes and an update on probate fees. With a Charity Commission report on fraud protection, the latest guidance for employers and a reminder to complete your self assessment tax return there is a lot to consider.

Budget will not now take place on 6 November

On 25 October 2019 the Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid wrote to the Treasury Select Committee to confirm that the Budget will not now take place on 6 November 2019 as originally planned. You can read that letter here.

We will keep you informed of developments.

Internet link: GOV.UK Budget

Christa Ackroyd loses IR35 appeal

Former BBC presenter Christa Ackroyd has lost her appeal against a ruling that she was an employee, not a freelance contractor, when she worked for the BBC via a personal service company.

The IR35 rules in broad terms mean that those working via a personal service company have to consider whether, if the services were provided by the individual contractor directly to the client, there would be a contract of employment.

Judges in the Upper Tier Tribunal upheld last year’s First Tier Tribunal ruling that she was a BBC employee when she presented Look North in Yorkshire and was therefore liable to pay income tax and national insurance contributions.

The case related to the tax years 2006/07 to 2012/13, while she worked for the public broadcaster through her personal service company, Christa Ackroyd Media (CAM).

HMRC argued that she owed almost £420,000 in income tax and national insurance contributions, before corporation tax deductions. An HMRC spokesperson said they welcomed the judgment that the presenter was within the intermediary rules.

Employment status is never a matter of choice; it is always dictated by the facts and when the wrong tax is being paid, we put things right.

It is right that an individual who works through a company, but would have been an employee if they were taken on directly, pays broadly the same amount of tax and national insurance contributions as employees.’

The IR35 rules were amended for Public Bodies (including the BBC) from April 2017 and the government will make similar changes for the private sector from April 2020.

Internet links: ICAEW news BAILII cases

Clamp down on enablers of tax avoidance schemes

HMRC says it is clamping down on the promoters and enablers of tax avoidance schemes in the wake of the loan charge controversy.

Penny Ciniewicz, Director General of Customer Compliance at HMRC, told the Treasury Select Committee that HMRC is ‘doubling the resources’ to tackle those in the ‘avoidance supply chain’.

In response to questions about the loan charge, Ms Ciniewicz said:

‘We have more than 100 current investigations into promoters [and enablers], and we’re keeping a very close eye on the market for avoidance. We are spotting schemes as they emerge and we’re tackling them.’

The loan charge policy is currently subject to an independent review. It came into effect on 6 April this year, and applies to anyone who used ‘disguised remuneration’ schemes. The legislation added a 45% non-refundable charge on all loans advanced through the schemes, unless the individual had agreed with HMRC to settle their tax affairs.

Internet link: ICAEW news

Increase in probate fees abandoned

The government has abandoned its planned increase in probate fees. The increase in fees was originally expected to take effect from 1 April 2019. However, in March 2019 HMRC postponed the introduction of the increase, attributing the delay to pressure on Parliamentary time.

As part of the government’s plans, estates that are valued between £50,000 and £300,000 would have been subject to a probate fee of £250. Fees were to rise thereafter to reach £6,000 for estates with a value above £2 million.

Currently, for estates valued at over £5,000, a grant application made by a solicitor is subject to a flat fee of £155. A grant application made by an individual is subject to a fee of £215.

The increase was included in a statutory instrument (SI) however the SI fell away on the prorogation of Parliament in September, but was reinstated when the prorogation was declared illegal.

The government has now announced that the planned increase will not take place. Instead there will be a review of court costs and how they can be covered by the actual service required.

Probate fees apply in in England and Wales.

Internet link: ICAEW post

Charities fraud protection failures

According to a report published by the Charity Commision, the majority of UK charities admit fraud is a major risk, but are still failing to carry out basic tasks in order to protect themselves.

More than 3,300 charities took part in the Charity Commission’s survey into fraud awareness, resilience and cyber security in the sector. Over two thirds of charities agree that fraud is a significant risk. Insider fraud is recognised as one of the biggest threats, the report stated.

The survey found that 85% of charities think they are doing everything they can to prevent fraud, but almost half do not have robust protections in place.

The Commission recommended some simple steps that charities could take to protect their funds, including introducing and enforcing basic financial controls. They should also make sure no single individual has oversight or control of financial arrangements, as effective segregation of duties is a crucial method of preventing and detecting fraud.

The Commission also recommends that employees, volunteers and trustees should be encouraged to speak out when they see something they feel uncomfortable about.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Guidance for employers

HMRC has published the October 2019 issue of the Employer Bulletin which contains guidance on a number of issues relevant for employers. Topics in this edition include:

  • Changes for UK employers sending workers to the EU, the EEA or Switzerland
  • PAYE Settlement Agreements and Welsh rate of Income Tax
  • Guidance for employers on reporting PAYE information in real time when payments are made early at Christmas
  • Disguised Remuneration
  • Termination payments: Post Employment Notice Pay for employees paid by equal monthly instalments
  • Do your employees have the right tax code?
  • Employment Allowance reform – eligibility rules for the Employment Allowance are changing from April 2020
  • Do you claim the Apprenticeship Levy Allowance or Employment Allowance?
  • Changes to company car tax regime
  • Student and Postgraduate Loans
  • Childcare vouchers
  • Trivial Benefits in kind
  • Paying for fitness equipment

If you would like help with payroll matters please contact us.

Internet link: GOV.UK employer-bulletin-october-2019

HMRC countdown: file your tax return

With less than 100 days until the self assessment tax return deadline of 31 January 2020, HMRC is urging taxpayers to complete their tax returns early, in order to avoid the last minute rush.

HMRC report that last year more than 2,000 people submitted their tax returns on Christmas Day. Taxpayers should consider submitting their returns early to avoid the stress of a last minute rush.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said:

‘The deadline for completing Self Assessment tax returns is only 100 days away, yet, so many of us wait until January to start the process. Avoid the last minute rush by completing your tax returns on time and then enjoy the upcoming festive period.

We want to help people get their tax returns right – starting the process early and giving yourself time to gather all the information you need will help avoid that stressful, late rush to file.’

Not all taxpayers need to complete a tax return as tax is automatically deducted from the majority of UK taxpayers’ wages, pensions or savings. For people or businesses where tax is not automatically deducted, or when they may have earned additional untaxed income, they are required to complete a Self Assessment tax return each year.

HMRC is also reminding people who are liable for the High Income Child Benefit Charge that they may need to file a tax return before the deadline. Those with income over £50,000 who receive child benefit, or those whose partner gets it, are liable for the charge. Taxpayers can check their annual income via their P60 or Personal Tax Account, and use HMRC’s child benefit tax calculator.

The deadline for filing paper tax returns was 31 October 2019 and the deadline for online tax returns and paying any tax owed is 31 January 2020. If taxpayers miss the deadline, they face a minimum £100 penalty for late submission.

Contact us for help with your self assessment tax return.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Genuine HMRC contact and recognising phishing emails and texts

HMRC has updated their guidance on how to recognise when contact from HMRC is genuine and how to recognise phishing or bogus emails and text messages.

Internet link: GOV.UK recognising phishing emails