CHANCELLOR WARNED OF REDUNDANCIES AS FURLOUGH SCHEME ENDS

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) ended on 30 September after supporting millions of workers during the pandemic.

The government said the wages of more than 11 million people were subsidised for at least some of the scheme’s duration at a cost of around £70 billion.

Economists say there is likely to be a rise in unemployment due to new redundancies, despite the fact that some may be able to find work in recovering sectors such as travel and hospitality.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said the end of the furlough scheme, the scrapping of the small employer sick pay rebate and the closure of the government’s apprenticeship incentive scheme will only add pressure on companies.

Mike Cherry, the FSB’s National Chair, said:

‘It’s potentially a dangerous moment. As the weather turns colder, so too will the operating environment for many firms. With recent economic growth numbers having fallen below expectations, the upcoming festive season may not provide as much of a boost as hoped to many small businesses’ bottom lines.’

Internet link: GOV.UK FSB website

MAKING TAX DIGITAL FOR INCOME TAX SELF ASSESSMENT DELAYED FOR A YEAR

The government has delayed the introduction of Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Income Tax Self Assessment (MTD for ITSA) for a year, HMRC recently announced.

The government says it has made the move in recognition of the challenges faced by many UK businesses as the country emerges from the pandemic.

It will now introduce MTD for ITSA in the tax year beginning in April 2024, a year later than planned.

It says the later start for MTD for ITSA gives those required to join more time to prepare and for HMRC to deliver a robust service, with additional time for customer testing in the pilot.

Lucy Frazer, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:

‘The digital tax system we are building will be more efficient, make it easier for customers to get tax right, and bring wider benefits in increased productivity.

‘But we recognise that, as we emerge from the pandemic, it’s critical that everyone has enough time to prepare for the change, which is why we’re giving people an extra year to do so.

‘We remain firmly committed to MTD and building a tax system fit for the 21st century.’

Internet linkGOV.UK

NATIONAL INSURANCE AND DIVIDEND TAX RISES ANNOUNCED FOR SOCIAL CARE REFORM

From April 2022, the government plans to create a new social care levy which will see UK-wide tax and National Insurance Contribution (NIC) increases.

There will be a 1.25% increase in NICs on earned income, with dividend tax rates also increasing by 1.25%. The money raised will be ringfenced for health and social care costs.

The Levy will be effectively introduced from April 2022, when NIC for working age employees, the self-employed and employers will increase by 1.25% and be added to the existing NHS allocation. The Levy will not apply to Class 2 or 3 NICs.

From April 2023, once HMRC’s systems are updated, the 1.25% Levy will be formally separated out and will also apply to individuals working above State Pension age and NIC rates will return to their 2021/22 levels.

Individuals who receive dividend income will also face a higher tax bill as all rates of dividend tax will increase by 1.25% from April 2022.

The dividend tax is applicable on dividend income above the frozen £2,000 dividend allowance and above the £12,570 personal allowance. Dividends on assets held in ISAs are excluded from the dividend tax.

From the 2022-23 tax year, basic rate dividend tax will be charged at 8.75% instead of 7.5% this year. Higher rate dividend taxpayers will be charged 33.75% instead of 32.5% and additional rate dividend taxpayers will pay 39.35% instead of 38.1% respectively.

Internet links: GOV.UK

HMRC OUTLINES CHANGES TO LATE PAYMENT PENALTY REGIME

HMRC has published a policy paper outlining the forthcoming changes to the penalties for late payment and interest harmonisation for taxpayers.

The government intends to reform sanctions for late submission and late payments to make them ‘fairer and more consistent across taxes’. Initially the changes will apply to VAT and Income Tax Self Assessment (ITSA).

The changes will see interest charges and repayment interest harmonised to bring VAT in line with other tax regimes, including ITSA.

Under the new regime, there are two late payment penalties that may apply: a first penalty and then an additional or second penalty, with an annualised penalty rate. All taxpayers, regardless of the tax regime, have a legal obligation to pay their tax by the due date for that tax. The taxpayer will not incur a penalty if the outstanding tax is paid within the first 15 days after the due date. If tax remains unpaid after day 15, the taxpayer incurs the first penalty.

This penalty is set at 2% of the tax outstanding after day 15.

If any of the tax is still unpaid after day 30 the penalty will be calculated at 2% of the tax outstanding after day 15 plus 2% of the tax outstanding after day 30. If tax remains unpaid on day 31 the taxpayer will begin to incur an additional penalty on the tax remaining outstanding. This will accrue at 4% per annum.

HMRC will offer taxpayers the option of requesting a Time To Pay arrangement which will enable a taxpayer to stop a penalty from accruing by approaching HMRC and agreeing a schedule for paying their outstanding tax.

For VAT taxpayers, the reforms take effect from VAT periods starting on or after 1 April 2022. The changes will take effect for taxpayers in ITSA from accounting periods beginning on or after 6 April 2023 for those with business or property income over £10,000 per year (that is, taxpayers who are required to submit digital quarterly updates through Making Tax Digital for ITSA).

For all other ITSA taxpayers, the reforms will take effect from accounting periods beginning on or after 6 April 2024.

Internet linkGOV.UK

EMPLOYERS ‘NAMED AND SHAMED’ FOR PAYING LESS THAN MINIMUM WAGE

The government has ‘named and shamed’ 191 companies that have broken National Minimum Wage (NMW) laws.

Following investigations by HMRC, the named firms have been fined for owing £2.1 million to over 34,000 workers. The breaches took place between 2011 and 2018. Named employers have since been made to pay back what they owed to employees and were fined an additional £3.2 million.

According to HMRC, 47% of firms wrongly deducted pay from workers’ wages, including for uniforms and expenses. In addition, 30% failed to pay workers for all the time they had worked, such as when they worked overtime, while 19% paid the incorrect apprenticeship rate.

Business Minister Paul Scully said:

‘Our minimum wage laws are there to ensure a fair day’s work gets a fair day’s pay – it is unacceptable for any company to come up short.

‘All employers, including those on this list, need to pay workers properly.

‘This government will continue to protect workers’ rights vigilantly, and employers that short-change workers won’t get off lightly.’

Internet link: GOV.UK

HMRC URGES TAXPAYERS TO STAY ALERT TO DIGITAL SCAMS

HMRC has urged taxpayers to stay alert to the threat of digital scams and scammers claiming to represent HMRC.

Research published by HMRC revealed that the number of tax-related scams has doubled in the past 12 months.

In the past year HMRC has received more than one million referrals from the UK public in regard to suspicious contact, with many fraudsters offering ‘tax refunds’ or ‘rebates’. The research showed that HMRC received 441,954 reports of phone scams and more than 13,315 reports of malicious websites.

HMRC also stated that, over the last year, it has asked internet providers to take down 441 coronavirus (COVID-19) support scheme scam webpages.

Mike Fell, Head of Cyber Security Operation at HMRC, said:

‘The pandemic has given criminals a fresh hook for their activity and we’ve detected more than 460 COVID financial support scams alone since early 2020.

‘HMRC takes a proactive approach to protecting the public from tax-related scams and we have a dedicated Customer Protection Team that works continuously to identify and close them down.’

Internet link: ICAEW

CLAIMING THE FIFTH SELF-EMPLOYED INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME (SEISS) GRANT

HMRC has issued guidance on claiming the fifth and final self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant.

Unlike previous SEISS grants the amount of the fifth grant available is determined by how much a self-employed individual’s turnover is reduced.

The fifth grant is 80% of three months’ average trading profits capped at £7,500 for those self-employed individuals whose turnover has reduced by 30% or more. Those with a turnover reduction of less than 30% will receive a grant based on 30% of three months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850.

Claims must be made by 30 September 2021. It is the taxpayer who must make the claim, an accountant or agent cannot submit the claim on their behalf.

Before making a claim taxpayers must:

  • work out their turnover for a 12-month period starting from 1 April 2020 to 6 April 2020
  • find their turnover from either 2019/20 or 2018/19 to use as a reference year.

HMRC advises taxpayers will need to have both figures ready when they make their claim.

A taxpayer can calculate their turnover for 2020/21 in a number of ways:

  • by referring to their 2020/21 self assessment tax return if this has already been completed
  • checking the figures on their accounting software
  • reviewing their bookkeeping or spreadsheet records that detail their self-employment invoices and payments received
  • checking the bank account they use for their business to account for money coming in from customers
  • by asking their accountant or tax adviser for help in calculating the figures. However accountants and agents are unable to make the claim on the taxpayer’s behalf.

Claiming the fifth SEISS grant is not straightforward so please contact us for advice on determining your turnover figures or eligibility.

Internet link: GOV.UK SEISS5

CONSULTATION LAUNCHED ON SELF-EMPLOYED BASIS PERIOD REFORM

HMRC has recently launched a consultation on how basis periods can be reformed for income tax for the self-employed.

The consultation seeks to gather views on how best to implement a proposal to simplify the rules under which profits of an unincorporated trading business are allocated to tax years using basis periods. The consultation also includes suggestions regarding transitional rules for moving to the new system.

HMRC aims to simplify the system before Making Tax Digital (MTD) for income tax is implemented.

The proposals affect the self-employed and partnerships with trading income. It mainly affects unincorporated businesses that do not draw up annual accounts to 31 March or 5 April and those that are in the early years of trade.

HMRC stated that it would like to gather views on the matter from businesses, advisers, tax software providers and representative bodies.

HMRC LAUNCHES 13,000 INVESTIGATIONS INTO COVID-19 SUPPORT SCHEMES

HMRC has launched nearly 13,000 investigations into alleged abuse of the government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) financial support schemes.

A freedom of information request revealed that, up to the end of March 2021, HMRC opened 12,828 investigations into alleged cases of fraud. 7,384 of these investigations related to abuse of the COVID-19 support schemes.

5,020 investigations were launched into the alleged misuse of the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

Commenting on the matter, a spokesperson for HMRC said:

‘It is vital we support businesses to recover by ensuring a level playing field, so the majority are not undercut by the few who tried to cheat the system.

‘We are taking tough action to tackle fraudulent behaviour. We have now opened more than 12,000 inquiries into claimants we suspect may have kept more than they were entitled to. We have also begun a handful of criminal investigations.’

Internet link: CityAM news

PROPERTY TAX CHANGES

From 1 July 2021 there are changes to the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) and Land Transaction Tax (LTT) bands for residential property.

SDLT is payable by the purchaser in a land transaction occurring in England and Northern Ireland. The following rates and thresholds apply for SDLT from 1 July 2021 to 30 September 2021:

RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY (£) RATE (%)
0 – 250,000 0
250,001 – 925,000 5
925,001 – 1,500,000 10
1,500,001 and above 12

LTT is payable by the purchaser in a land transaction occurring in Wales. From 1 July 2021 the rates for residential property are:

RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY (£) RATE (%)
0 – 180,000 0
180,001 – 250,000 3.5
250,001 – 400,000 5
400,001 – 750,000 7.5
750,001 – 1,500,000 10
1,500,000 and above 12

There are no changes to the rates and bands for Land and Property Transaction Tax which apply in Scotland.

Internet links: SDLT rates LTT rates