Newsletter – January 2021

Enews January 2021

In this month’s Enews we consider the latest lockdown grant package, the extension of the Job Retention Scheme and guidance on the VAT deferral. We also update you on action to disrupt tax avoidance scheme promoters, the approaching self assessment deadline and a warning against potential capital gains tax rises. With guidance on making festive charitable donations and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme there is a lot to update you on.

Chancellor announces £4.6 billion lockdown grant package

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a new £4.6 billion package of grants to support businesses through the latest national lockdown.

UK businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to be given one-off grants worth up to £9,000.

The payments are expected to support 600,000 business properties across the UK. A further £594 million will be made available to councils and devolved nations to support businesses not covered by the new grants.

The Chancellor said:

‘The new strain of the virus presents us all with a huge challenge, and whilst the vaccine is being rolled out, we have needed to tighten restrictions further.’

‘Throughout the pandemic we’ve taken swift action to protect lives and livelihoods and… we’re announcing a further cash injection to support businesses and jobs until the spring.’

‘This will help businesses to get through the months ahead – and crucially it will help sustain jobs so workers can be ready to return when they are able to reopen.’

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Extension of the Job Retention Scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) until the end of April 2021.

Businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) can make use of the CJRS until the end of April, with the government continuing to pay 80% of employees’ salaries for hours not worked. Employers will only be required to pay wages, national insurance contributions (NICs) and pensions for hours worked, and NICs and pensions for hours not worked.

Additionally, Mr Sunak stated that he is extending COVID-19 business loan schemes until the end of March 2021. Businesses will be given until the end of March to access the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS). These schemes had been due to close at the end of January.

The Chancellor also confirmed that the 2021 Budget will be delivered on 3 March 2021 and will outline the next phase of the government’s plan to combat COVID-19 and protect jobs.

The Chancellor said:

‘Our package of support for businesses and workers continues to be one of the most generous and effective in the world – helping our economy recover and protecting livelihoods across the country.

‘We know the premium businesses place on certainty, so it is right that we enable them to plan ahead regardless of the path the virus takes, which is why we’re providing certainty and clarity by extending this support.’

Internet link: GOV.UK news

VAT Deferral

HMRC has issued some guidance to taxpayers that deferred their VAT payments between 20 March and 30 June 2020 and still have payments to make.

HMRC is advising taxpayers who deferred their VAT payments to:

  • pay the deferred VAT in full on or before 31 March 2021
  • or opt in to the VAT deferral new payment scheme when it launches in 2021
  • or to contact HMRC if they need more help to pay.

Taxpayers can pay their deferred VAT in full by 31 March 2021. There is no need to contact HMRC. However, if taxpayers want to use the new payment scheme they will need to opt in. The new online opt in process will be available in early 2021. Taxpayers will need to opt in themselves as this cannot be carried out by tax agents.

Where taxpayers opt in to the VAT deferral new payment scheme instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, they can make up to 11 smaller monthly instalments which are interest free. All instalments of the outstanding amount must be paid by the end of March 2022.

In order for taxpayers to use the scheme they must:

  • still have deferred VAT to pay
  • be up to date with their VAT returns
  • opt in before the end of March 2021
  • pay the first instalment before the end of March 2021
  • be able to pay the deferred VAT by Direct Debit.

Taxpayers must prepare to opt in by:

  • creating their own Government Gateway account if they do not already have one
  • submitting any outstanding VAT returns from the last four years. You will not be able to join the scheme if you have not done so
  • correcting errors on their VAT returns as soon as possible. Corrections received after 31 December 2020 may not show in their deferred VAT balance
  • ensuring they know how much they owe, including the amount they originally deferred and how much they may have already paid.

Internet link: GOV.UK guidance

HMRC and Advertising Standard Authority launch new action to disrupt promoters of tax avoidance schemes

HMRC and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have launched a new joint enforcement notice to cut out misleading marketing by promoters of tax avoidance schemes.

The joint enforcement notice aims to disrupt the activity of promoters and protect individuals from being presented with misleading adverts which may tempt them into tax avoidance.

The enforcement notice requires promoters to be clear about the potential consequences of tax avoidance in any online adverts.

Immediate sanctions include having their paid advertising removed from search engines and follow-up compliance action, which can include referral to Trading Standards. The enforcement notice has been published as HMRC launches its ‘Tax avoidance: don’t get caught out’ awareness campaign warning and educating contractors about how to identify if they are being offered a tax avoidance scheme, and the pitfalls of using these schemes.

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

‘The government has made clear its determination to clamp down on the promoters of tax avoidance schemes.’

‘Today HMRC and the ASA are taking an important further step in this direction by action against misleading advertisements by promoters.’

‘As always, we would encourage people to pay close attention to HMRC’s warnings not to enter tax avoidance schemes. If it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is.’

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Self assessment deadline approaching

The deadline for submitting your 2019/20 self assessment return is 31 January 2021. The deadline applies to taxpayers who need to complete a tax return and make direct payments to HMRC in respect of their income tax, Classes 2 and 4 National Insurance Contributions (NIC), capital gains tax and High Income Child Benefit Charge liabilities.

There is a penalty of £100 if a taxpayer’s return is not submitted on time, even if there is no tax due or the return shows that they are due a tax refund.

The balance of any outstanding income tax, Classes 2 and 4 NIC, capital gains tax and High Income Child Benefit Charge for the year ended 5th April 2020 is also due for payment by 31 January 2021. Where the payment is made late interest will be charged.

The first payment on account for 2020/21 in respect of income tax and any Class 4 NIC or High Income Child Benefit Charge is also due for payment by 31st January 2021.

HMRC revealed that more than 2,700 taxpayers filed their return on Christmas Day. If you would like help with your return or agreeing your tax liability, please contact us.

Internet links: GOV.UK self assessment GOV.UK news

Institute of Directors warns Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rise would adversely affect entrepreneurs

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has warned the government that a rise in CGT would affect Britain’s entrepreneurial spirit.

The business group believes CGT could be targeted by the Treasury and increased in order to help put public finances back on a stable footing following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Tej Parikh, Chief Economist at the IoD, said:

‘But any reform would have to be done with extreme care to prevent a knock-on effect. Positive entrepreneurialism will be more important than ever in the months ahead.’

‘All told, ramping up CGT will pour cold water over Britain’s entrepreneurialism just when we need it most. It’s not an answer to the costs of COVID-19, but rather paves the way for a stunted recovery.’

Additionally, increasing CGT ‘would only add to the impression held by some that wealth creation is falling down the list of priorities’, the IoD said. It has urged the government to consider the UK’s international standing as a destination for business, arguing that the UK has ‘long held a strong reputation as a place to start, run and grow a company’.

Internet link: IoD news

Individuals urged to remain vigilant when making festive charitable donations

Action Fraud has warned the public to remain vigilant when making festive charitable donations as the number of scams rises.

Figures published by Action Fraud showed that £350,000 in charitable donations ended up with criminals over the festive period in 2019. It warned that fraudsters often set up fake charities or impersonate well known charitable organisations in order to deceive victims.

Action Fraud has advised individuals to look for the registered charity number on charity websites; check if a charity is registered with the Fundraising Regulator, never click on links or attachments in emails and never respond to unsolicited messages or phone calls.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:

‘Charities do incredibly important work, helping those in need, especially at this time of year. Unfortunately, criminals will try to abuse the generosity and goodwill of others and this can have a huge financial impact on charities and the good causes they support.’

‘We would encourage people not to be put off donating to charities, but instead to be vigilant.’

Internet link Action Fraud news

Check if you can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

HMRC is advising the self employed that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has been extended. Taxpayers who were not eligible for the first and second grant will not be eligible for the third.

To make a claim for the third grant the taxpayer’s business must have had a new or continuing impact from coronavirus between 1 November 2020 and 29 January 2021, which they reasonably believe will have a significant reduction in their profits.

The third taxable grant is worth 80% of a taxpayer’s average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total.

The online service to claim the third grant is open. Taxpayers should make their claim from the date HMRC give taxpayers either by email, letter or within the service. Eligible taxpayers must claim the third grant on or before 29 January 2021.

The grant does not need to be repaid, but will be subject to Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance and must be reported on the taxpayer’s 2020 to 2021 Self Assessment tax return. Taxpayers must keep evidence to support their claim.

Internet link: GOV.UK guidance

Newsletter – September 2020

Enews – September 2020

In this month’s Enews we consider changes to the plastic bag tax, pension scams and the latest advisory fuel rates. With the latest figures on the success of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, self assessment deadlines, the latest guidance for employers, the launch of the Kickstart Scheme and the Self Employed Income Support Scheme Grants there is lots to consider.

Plastic bag tax charge to be doubled and extended to all retailers

The fee for plastic shopping bags in England will be doubled to 10 pence and extended to all shops from April 2021.

Small retailers, those employing 250 people or fewer, will no longer be exempt, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

According to Defra, since the charge was first introduced in 2015 it has successfully prevented billions of plastic bags being sold and ending up in the ocean and environment.

Government data shows the current levy, which stands at 5 pence per bag and applies to any retailer employing 250 or more people, has led to a 95% cut in plastic bag sales in major supermarkets since 2015.

Commenting on the announcement, Environment Secretary George Eustice, said:

‘We have all seen the devastating impact plastic bags have on the oceans and on precious marine wildlife, which is why we are taking bold and ambitious action to tackle this issue head on.

‘The UK is already a world-leader in this global effort, and our carrier bag charge has been hugely successful in taking billions of harmful plastic bags out of circulation. But we want to go further by extending this to all retailers so we can continue to cut unnecessary waste and build back greener.’

Internet link: GOV.UK

More than £30 million lost to pension scams

Over £30 million has been lost to pension scams since 2017, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

A total of £30,857,329 in pension savings has been lost to scammers since 2017, data published by the FCA and the TPR revealed. Reported losses ranged from under £1,000 to as much as £500,000. The average victim was a man in his 50s, the FCA and the TPR found.

65% of pension savers said they felt confident they could spot a scam. However, four in ten would put themselves at risk unknowingly by engaging with a common scam tactic, such as being told it’s a time-sensitive offer.

The FCA and the TPR have advised savers not to be pressured into making any decisions about their pensions, and to reject unexpected pension offers, whether these are made online, via social media or over the phone.

Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said:

‘During these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to defend your lifetime savings from scammers.

‘Fraudsters will seek out every opportunity to exploit innocent people, no matter how much or how little you have saved.’

Internet link: FCA news

Advisory fuel rates for company cars

New company car advisory fuel rates have been published which take effect from 1 September 2020. The rates only apply to employees using a company car. The guidance states:

‘You can use the previous rates for up to one month from the date the new rates apply.’

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

Engine size Petrol
1400cc or less 10p
1401cc – 2000cc 12p
Over 2000cc 17p
Engine size LPG
1400cc or less 7p
1401cc – 2000cc 8p
Over 2000cc 12p
Engine size Diesel
1600cc or less 8p
1601cc – 2000cc 10p
Over 2000cc 12p

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.

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

Eat Out to Help Out – over 64 million meals

The government has announced that more than 64 million meals were enjoyed by diners across the country during the government’s Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme. The scheme closed on 31 August 2020.

Government figures show that restaurants had claimed for more than 64 million discounted meals as Eat Out to Help Out entered its fourth week.

This continues the upward trend in the scheme’s popularity, with 10.5 million meals claimed for in the first week, growing to a total of 35 million meals in the second.

The upward trend in meals claimed for shows that millions continued to flock to eat out to support 1.8 million jobs in the hospitality sector, which has been hit hard by coronavirus (COVID-19). The government has confirmed that 87,000 claims have been made by restaurants taking part in the scheme.

Data from OpenTable shows that during Eat Out to Help Out’s third week the number of customers at UK restaurants was 61% higher than the same days last year on average for Monday to Wednesday. The average level across Monday to Wednesday in the first and second week were 12% and 41% respectively. The data also shows that the number of customers at UK restaurants was up 17% compared to the same week in 2019.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

‘Today’s figures continue to show that Brits are backing hospitality – with more than 64 million meals discounted so far, that’s equivalent to nearly every person in the country dining out to protect jobs.

‘This scheme has reminded us how much we love to dine out, and in doing so, how this is helping to protect the jobs of nearly two million people who work in hospitality.’

Internet links: GOV.UK news HMRC guidance

Self assessment deadlines

Two self assessment deadlines are approaching:

  • 5th October 2020

For those individuals who have not previously completed a tax return but need to report a liability for 2019/20.

  • 31st October 2020

For those individuals who have previously submitted ‘paper’ self assessment tax returns the deadline for the 2019/20 return is 31 October 2020. Returns submitted after that date must be submitted electronically or they will incur a minimum penalty of £100. The penalty applies even when there is no tax to pay or the tax is paid on time.

If you would like any help with the completion of your self assessment tax return, please do get in touch.

Internet link: HMRC deadlines

HMRC latest guidance for employers

HMRC has published the latest edition of the Employer Bulletin. This guidance for employers, and their agents, includes articles on:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and what employers need to do from August onwards
  • making sure you are paying the correct workplace pension contributions
  • new laws to ensure furloughed employees receive full statutory redundancy payments
  • the deadline to report the disguised remuneration loan charge – 30 September 2020
  • COVID-19 – are you due a repayment?
  • off-payroll working rules (IR35)
  • applications for the £50 million customs grant scheme
  • the delay to the VAT reverse charge on building and construction services
  • the end of the VAT payment deferrals period
  • Student Loan repayments
  • Finance Act 2020 changes to company car tax.

Please contact us for help with employment matters.

Internet link: Employer Bulletin

Kickstart Scheme opens for applications

On 2 September 2020, the government’s £2 billion Kickstart Scheme opened for employer applications.

The scheme is part of the Plan for Jobs announced during Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s July Summer Economic Update.

The Kickstart Scheme aims to create work placements for young people who are at risk of becoming unemployed for the long-term. Businesses can join the scheme, with the government paying employers £1,500 to help set up support and training. Funding is available following a successful application process. Applications must be for a minimum of 30 job placements.

Businesses that are unable to offer this many job placements can partner with other organisations to reach the minimum number.

Selected out-of-work young people will be offered six month work placements for at least 25 hours a week to help them gain experience, skills and confidence. The scheme is designed to be a stepping stone to further employment.

Employers will receive funding for 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage (NMW) for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer national insurance contributions (NICs) and employer minimum auto-enrolment pension contributions.

Chancellor Sunak said:

‘This isn’t just about kickstarting our country’s economy – it is an opportunity to kickstart the careers of thousands of young people who could otherwise be left behind as a result of the pandemic.

‘The scheme will open the door to a brighter future for a new generation and ensure the UK bounces back stronger as a country.’

Internet link: GOV.UK

Self Employment Income Support Scheme Grants

HMRC are inviting those individuals that are self employed or a member of a partnership and have been adversely affected by coronavirus to claim a second grant under the Self Employed Income Support Grant.

Applications for the first grant under the scheme closed on 13 July 2020.

The second and final taxable grant is worth 70% of an individual’s average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

Applications for the second and final grant are now open. The grant is only available to businesses that have been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020. Taxpayers must make a claim for the second grant on or before 19 October 2020.

HMRC will work out businesses’ eligibility for the second grant in the same way as the first grant.

Taxpayers are able to make a claim for the second grant if they are eligible, even if they did not make a claim for the first grant.

HMRC have confirmed that taxpayers can:

  • continue to work
  • start a new trade or take on other employment including voluntary work and duties as a military reservist.

The grant does not need to be repaid if a taxpayer is eligible, but will be subject to both income tax and self employed National Insurance.

Internet link: GOV.UK SEISS guidance