RECENT CHANGES TO IR35 ‘UNDERMINE THE SELF-EMPLOYED’ SAYS IPSE

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has stated that the recent changes to the rules relating to off-payroll workers, commonly known as IR35, ‘undermine the self-employed at the worst possible time’.

The changes to IR35 took effect on 6 April 2021 and shifted responsibility for making the decision on employment status on each contract away from contractors and personal service companies (PSCs) and on to the client receiving their services. This has already been done in the public sector.

Research carried out by IPSE found that 50% of contractors planned to stop contracting in the UK once the changes took effect unless they could secure contracts unaffected by them. 24% are planning to seek contracts abroad; 12% plan to stop working altogether; 17% will seek an employed role; and 11% are looking to retire within the next year.

Additionally, 24% of contractors said their clients are planning to blanket-assess all their contractors as ‘inside IR35’.

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE, said:

‘The changes to IR35 would do serious harm to the self-employed sector at the best of times, but now they are adding drastic, unnecessary damage to the financial carnage of the pandemic – undermining the UK’s contractors at the worst possible time.

‘The crucial problem with IR35 is still its complexity: in fact, it is so complex that HMRC has lost the majority of tribunals on its own legislation. And there remains serious doubts about the CEST tool HMRC designed to supposedly cut through this complexity.’

Internet link: IPSE website

RECOVERY LOAN SCHEME OPENS TO BUSINESSES

On 6 April, the Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) was introduced to replace the government’s coronavirus lending schemes.

The RLS provides financial support to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme gives lenders a guarantee of 80% on eligible loans between £25,000 and £10 million to give them confidence in continuing to provide finance to UK businesses.

The RLS is open to all businesses, including those who have already received support under the previous COVID-19 guaranteed loan schemes, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme although the amount they have borrowed under an existing scheme may in certain circumstances limit the amount they may borrow under RLS.

The RLS is initially available through a number of lenders accredited by the British Business Bank.

Internet links: British Business Bank website

FOURTH SELF-EMPLOYED GRANT NOW OPEN FOR ONLINE APPLICATIONS

On 21 April, the online service for applications for the fourth Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant was opened for claims, HMRC confirmed.

All applications must be submitted by the individual self-employed worker and cannot be handled by accountants or tax advisers.

The fourth grant will be 80% of three months’ average trading profits, to be claimed from late April 2021.

Payment will be in a single instalment capped at £7,500 in total and will cover the period 1 February to 30 April 2021. The scheme has been extended to those who filed a 2019/20 self-assessment tax return prior to 3 March 2021.

Claimants must have been impacted by reduced activity, capacity and demand, or have been trading previously and are temporarily unable to do so. All claims must be made on or before 1 June 2021.

There is no requirement for an earlier SEISS grant to have been claimed to be able to claim the fourth grant.

The fifth SEISS grant will cover the period from 1 May to 30 September 2021 and will be available from July.

It will be set at 80% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment, capped at £7,500, for those with a turnover reduction of 30% or more.

Alternately, it will be worth 30% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850 for those with a turnover reduction of less than 30%.

Further details of the fifth grant will be provided in due course.

Internet link: GOV.UK

HMRC PUBLISHES DETAILS OF FINAL GRANTS FOR SELF-EMPLOYED

HMRC has published details of the eligibility criteria of the final two grants available under the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

At the 2021 Budget it was confirmed that the fourth SEISS grant will be set at 80% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment, capped at £7,500. It will cover the period from February 2021 to April 2021.

To be eligible for the fourth grant, self-employed workers must have filed their 2019/20 tax return by midnight on 2 March 2021. This includes those who became self-employed in 2019/20, provided they have filed according to the deadline.

Eligibility will be based on the 2019/20 self assessment tax return which may affect the amount of the fourth grant which could be higher or lower than previous grants.

The remaining eligibility criteria are unchanged so applicants must either be currently trading but impacted by reduced demand, or be temporarily unable to trade due to COVID-19. They must also declare an intention to continue trading.

Claims can be made from late April until 31 May 2021.

The fifth SEISS grant will cover the period from May to September 2021 and will be available from July.

It will be set at 80% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment, capped at £7,500, for those with a turnover reduction of 30% or more.

Alternately, it will be worth 30% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850 for those with a turnover reduction of less than 30%.

Further details of the fifth grant will be provided in due course.

Internet link: GOV.UK

BUSINESS RATES RELIEF EXTENDED WITH £1.5 BILLION FUND

The government is to extend business rates relief with a £1.5 billion fund targeted at those businesses unable to benefit from the current COVID-19 support.

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses have not been paying any rates during the pandemic, as part of a 15 month-long relief which runs to the end of June this year.

However, many businesses ineligible for reliefs have been appealing for discounts on their rates bills, arguing the pandemic represented a ‘material change of circumstance’ (MCC).

The government says that market-wide economic changes to property values, such as from COVID-19, can only be properly considered at general rates revaluations, and will therefore be legislating to rule out COVID-19 related MCC appeals.

Instead, the government will provide a £1.5 billion pot across the country that will be distributed according to which sectors have suffered most economically, rather than on the basis of falls in property values. It says this will ensure the support is provided to businesses in England in the fastest and fairest way possible.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

‘Our priority throughout this crisis has been to protect jobs and livelihoods. Providing this extra support will get cash to businesses who need it most, quickly and fairly.

‘By providing more targeted support than the business rates appeals system, our approach will help protect and support jobs in businesses across the country, providing a further boost as we reopen the economy, emerge from this crisis, and build back better.’

Internet link: GOV.UK

CONSULTATIONS LAUNCHED ON UK’S FIRST TAX DAY

The government has published over 30 updates, consultations and documents on the UK’s first ever Tax Day.

The announcements, which would traditionally be published at Budget, have been released later to allow for scrutiny from stakeholders.

It was announced that HMRC will tighten rules to force holiday let landlords to prove they have made a realistic effort to rent properties out for at least 140 days per year. There are suspicions that many simply declare that they will do this but leave the properties empty.

Declaring a home to be a holiday let means that it is exempt from council tax and owners pay business rates instead.

The Treasury plans to cut the rate of domestic Air Passenger Duty. The consultation also seeks views on supporting the UK’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 by increasing the number of international distance bands.

Inheritance tax (IHT) reporting regulations ‘will be simplified’ to ensure that from 1 January 2022 more than 90% of non-taxpaying estates will no longer have to complete IHT forms when probate or confirmation is required.

Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

‘We are making these announcements to increase the transparency, discipline and accessibility of tax policymaking.

‘These measures will help us to upgrade and digitise the UK tax system, tackle tax avoidance and fraud, among other things.

‘Many of today’s announcements form a key part of the government’s wider 10-year plan to build a trusted, modern tax system.’

Internet links: GOV.UK GOV.UK news

SUNAK SET OUT BUDGET TO PROTECT BUSINESSES

Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out a Budget to protect businesses through the pandemic, fix the public finances and begin building the future economy.

The Chancellor once again pledged to do ‘whatever it takes’ during the COVID-19 pandemic and confirmed that the furlough scheme would be extended until September 2021 to support jobs through the crisis.

Mr Sunak also confirmed that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) has also been extended, with two further grants this year. Claimable by the self-employed, including the newly self-employed from 6 April 2019, provided they have filed their 2019/20 tax return for by midnight on 2 March 2021,

The stamp duty nil rate band on residential properties in England up to £500,000 will continue until the end of June. It will taper to £250,000 until the end of September, and then return to the usual level of £125,000 from 1 October 2021.

To support businesses as they re-open following lockdown, £5 billion will be made available in restart grants. Non-essential retail businesses re-opening first will be eligible for up to £6,000 but the leisure and hospitality sectors, which have been worse affected and will re-open later, will be eligible for up to £18,000.

However, the rate of corporation tax will increase to 25% in April 2023 for companies with profits over £250,000, whilst retaining a Small Profits Rate of 19% for companies with profits of £50,000 or less.

The Chancellor also introduced a super-deduction for companies investing in qualifying new plant and machinery. Under this measure a company will be allowed to claim 130% on most new plant and machinery investments that ordinarily qualify for 18% main rate writing down allowances.

LATE PAYMENT PENALTIES FOR SELF ASSESSMENT WAIVED UNTIL 1 APRIL 2021

HMRC has announced that Self Assessment taxpayers will not be charged a 5% late payment penalty if they pay their tax or set up a payment plan by 1 April.

The payment deadline for Self Assessment is 31 January and interest is charged from 1 February on any amounts outstanding.

Normally, a 5% late payment penalty is also charged on any unpaid tax that is still outstanding on 3 March. But this year, because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, HMRC is giving taxpayers more time to pay or set up a payment plan.

Taxpayers can pay their tax bill or set up a monthly payment plan online and are required to do this by midnight on 1 April to prevent being charged a late payment penalty. The online Time to Pay facility allows taxpayers to spread the cost of their Self Assessment tax bill into monthly instalments until January 2022.

Jim Harra, HMRC’s Chief Executive, said:

‘Anyone worried about paying their tax can set up a payment plan to spread the cost into monthly instalments. Support is available at GOV.UK to help anyone struggling to meet their obligations.’

EXTENSION OF THE JOB RETENTION SCHEME

Following the Chancellor’s announcement yesterday, the Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021.

From 1 July 2021 the scheme will begin to wind down, the different stages of the winding down process of the scheme are as follows:

  1. Until 30 June 2021, the government will continue to pay 80% of the furloughed employees’ wages for the hours not worked.
  2. From 1 July 2021, the government will pay 70% of the furloughed employees’ wages for the hours not worked, with employers required to make up the additional 10% of wages.
  3. From 1 August 2021, the government will pay 60% of the furloughed employees’ wages for the hours not worked, with employers required to make up the additional 20% of wages.

Throughout all the changes to the scheme, the employees whilst furloughed, will continue to be entitled to 80% of their wages.

As under the current JRS, flexible furloughing will be allowed in addition to full-time furloughing.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries with regards to the Job Retention Scheme.

HMRC launch ‘VAT Deferral new payment scheme’

HMRC have this week launched their  ‘VAT Deferral new payment scheme’ where any businesses who deferred VAT payments for the VAT quarters ending 29 February/31 March/30 April 2020 can join in order to pay any outstanding liability in relation to these deferred periods, in monthly instalments.

Businesses will need to opt-in to the VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme. They can do this via the online service that opens on 23 February 2021 and closes on 21 June 2021.

The new payment scheme will continue to help the economy recover by enabling businesses, impacted by the pandemic, to manage their business cash flow at a critical time.

Please find below a link to the relevant guidance and online registration details.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vat-deferral-new-payment-scheme-online-service-opens