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Business News Update - December 2020

Latest information on government support schemes

VAT DEFERRED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS

If you deferred VAT between 20 March and 30 June 2020 and still have payments to make, you can:

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

You cannot opt in yet. The online opt in process will be available in early 2021. You must opt in yourself; we cannot do this for you. We will advise you on how to make the claim and instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, you can make up to 11 smaller monthly instalments, interest free. All instalments must be paid by the end of March 2022.

Read the governments full guidance on paying deferred VAT.

CORONAVIRUS JOB RETENTION SCHEME

The Guidance has been updated to reflect that 30 November claims deadline has now passed. There is a new section on holiday pay updated with further clarity on when employees can be furloughed.

CLAIM YOUR “FURLOUGH” GRANT BY 14TH

Full details of the extension of CJRS “furlough” that will apply from 1 November 2020 through to the end of March 2021 are now available.

The government support will initially be at the rate of 80% of an employee’s reference pay for hours they are furloughed, subject to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Claims must be made by the 14th of the following month although they can be made up to 14 days in advance. Another key difference from the previous versions of CJRS is that there is no requirement that the employee was on the payroll at 19 March 2020 or has been previously furloughed. They do however need to be on the payroll and subject to an RTI submission prior to midnight on 30 October 2020.

REFERENCE PAY

An employee’s reference pay will depend upon whether or not they were on the payroll and subject to an RTI submission for 2019/20 on or before 19 March 2020. Where that is the case their reference pay will be that used under previous furlough claims. Where the employee has joined since that date or not subject to an RTI submission prior to 19 March the reference pay will generally be that for the last pay period ending before 30 October.

There are exceptions to these rules and complications for those working variable hours and with variable rates of pay.

CLAIM A GRANT THROUGH THE SELF EMPLOYMENT INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME

 The third grant for SEISS is now open. To make a claim for the grant, your business must have been impacted by coronavirus on or after 1 November 2020. You can make a claim for the third grant if you are eligible, even if you did not make a claim for the first or second.  

What you will need to make your claim

You will need your:

  • Self-Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
  • National Insurance number
  • Government Gateway user ID and password
  • UK bank details including account number, sort code, name on the account and address linked to the account

You may also need to answer questions about your passport, driving licence or information held on your credit file.       

You must make your claim between 30 November 2020 and 29 January 2021 using the government website

NEW PENALTIES FOR OVERCLAIMED CJRS, SEISS AND “EAT OUT TO HELP OUT” GRANTS

HMRC have announced that they will be imposing penalties of up to 100% of the amounts overclaimed on businesses so make sure that your claims are correct.

The penalties depend on whether or not the overclaim is the result of a deliberate error and whether or not the disclosure was prompted by HMRC. The penalty may be reduced where the taxpayer assists HMRC in correcting the error.

Many overclaims may be the result of careless errors or a misinterpretation of the rules which have changed many times in the last 9 months so we hope that HMRC will apply the rules with a light touch and focus on those that have abused these schemes.

We understand that HMRC are writing to 4,000 catering establishments that they suspect may have overclaimed under the “Eat out to help out” scheme that ran in August.  Traders are being asked to check their claims and respond within 60 days or face an HMRC compliance check

MAKE A CLAIM IF YOU ARE WORKING FROM HOME

Employees can now make a claim for tax relief to cover some of their costs while they are working from home.

The previous rule for employees was that there had to be a home working arrangement with their employer under which they were required to work from home on a regular basis to be paid £6 a week tax free (£4 a week up to 5 April 2020). This rule has now been relaxed as a result of COVID-19 so that such arrangements are not currently required and employees can also claim tax relief directly from HMRC where their employer does not make the payments.

£312 a year tax free is equivalent to £538 gross for a higher rate taxpayer. The payments are tax deductible for the employer and not liable to national insurance contributions.

Where the employer does not make the payments to the employee there is a new claims portal on the HMRC website so that the employee who is working from home can claim to deduct £312 from their employment income. That would generate a £124.80 tax refund for a higher rate taxpayer or £62.40 if basic rate.

There is a similar tax break for the self-employed which provides a deduction from profits of up to £26 a month.

GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES £1,000 CHRISTMAS GRANT FOR ‘WET-LED PUBS’ –ENGLAND

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced an additional £1,000 Christmas grant for ‘wet-led pubs’ in tiers 2 and 3, who will miss out on turnover during the busy Christmas period.

Pubs that predominantly serve alcohol rather than provide food, have been asked to make sacrifices over the festive season and will be eligible for a one-off £1,000 to help make ends meet.

The payment will be a one-off for December and will be paid on top of the existing £3,000 monthly cash grants for businesses.

ENGLAND – LOCAL RESTRICTION SUPPORT GRANT (FOR OPEN BUSINESSES)

The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG (Open)) supports businesses that have been severely impacted due to temporary local restrictions.

Businesses that have not had to close, but which have been severely impacted due to local tier 2 or tier 3 restrictions, may be eligible for LRSG (Open).

Eligible businesses may be entitled to a cash grant from their local council for each 14-day period under local restrictions.

Local councils have the discretion to provide grant funding for businesses under this scheme. They will use their discretion in identifying the right businesses to receive this funding, based on their application process.

Check if you are eligible for a Local Restrictions Support Grant

ENGLAND – CLOSING CERTAIN BUSINESSES AND VENUES IN ENGLAND

There is updated information about business and venue closures in England, reflecting the introduction of local restriction tiers that came into effect on 2 December 2020.

VIRTUAL CHRISTMAS PARTIES

HMRC have recently announced that employers may arrange a “virtual” Christmas party this year and there will be no taxable benefit for employees provided that all staff are invited and the cost per head does not exceed the normal £150 limit.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is provided for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice.  We cannot accept responsibility or liability for any actions you may take, or not take, based on this information.

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