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.’
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.
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.