We highlight some guidance and advice the government has for employers and self-employed individuals.
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The government has announced numerous measures in the past week and has now updated their guidance for employers and self-employed individuals. The following is a summary of some of the measures available.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough guidance)
This scheme is aimed to encourage employers to retain staff through these unprecedented times. Where employees are no longer required to perform work duties due to the coronavirus impact, the employer can make a claim for a grant from the government amounting to 80% of their furloughed wages and employer’s national insurance up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee per month.
These employees are termed furloughed. You must notify your staff that they are being furloughed formally in writing. HMRC are working as quickly as possible and anticipate to have the online portal ready by the end of April 2020 for claims to be made by the business.
The salary used to compute the funding for furloughed employees would be based on the February 2020 payslip.
As an illustration, if your gross salary was £719 in February 2020 you could receive funding of £575.20 for any months in which you were officially furloughed. At present, the measure is in place for three months but may be extended.
As a director of a limited company, you may be able to apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if you are being paid a salary through a PAYE scheme. Directors can be furloughed in the same way as other employees. The furloughed employee must not undertake work for the company during this time.
Deferring VAT payments
HMRC are supporting businesses by offering to defer your VAT payments for 3 months if your VAT payment is due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. HMRC will not charge interest or penalties on any amount deferred as a result of the announcement. You will still need to submit your VAT returns to the HMRC on time. Refunds will be paid by the HMRC as normal.
If you choose to defer your VAT payment it will need to be paid up by 31 March 2021. You do not need to tell the HMRC you are deferring your payment.
It is your responsibility to cancel your VAT direct debit which you can do by contacting your bank or you can cancel the direct debit payment online which will prevent your VAT liability from being automatically paid when your VAT return is submitted.
VAT payments after the deferral payment will need to be paid as normal within the normal time frame which you will need to do manually as your direct debit will have been cancelled.
Deferring Income Tax payments
For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 may be optionally deferred until 31 January 2021. You do not need to be self-employed to be eligible for the deferment. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged if you defer payment until January 2021.
HMRC Time to Pay Scheme
If you can’t pay any other taxes due to the impact of Coronavirus a payment plan can be negotiated through calling the HMRC Payment Support Service line on 0300 200 3835, open Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm.
Self-employment Income Support Scheme
The Self-employment Support Scheme has been announced and expected to be made available in June 2020. HMRC will contact individuals who are eligible to apply for the scheme. You may only be eligible for this scheme if you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership and you have traded in the 2019-20 tax year and have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to Coronavirus.
You must have submitted your self-assessment tax return for the year ended 5 April 2019, if not this needs to be submitted by 23 April 2020. HMRC will use this data to determine eligibility for the scheme and they will invite you to the scheme if you qualify, you cannot apply for the scheme.
This scheme is only available to individuals who have a trading profit of less than £50,000. The grant will be 80% of the average trading profit from the last 3 tax years and it will be up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The initial scheme is available for three months.
Please note the Self-employment Support Scheme is not available to directors of limited companies who draw a salary and dividend income. Directors who take a salary may be eligible for the Job Retention Scheme as mentioned above.
Statutory Sick Pay relief packages for SME businesses
SME businesses and employers can reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to Coronavirus. The refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of Coronavirus. It is available to businesses with less than 250 employees claiming SSP due to Coronavirus.
12 Month Business Rate holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied properties that are wholly or mainly being used as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues for assembly and leisure and for hospitality, as hotels, guest & boarding premises or self-catering accommodation.
Cash Grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.
Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to £15,000 may be eligible for a one-off grant of £10,000 to help meet their ongoing business costs.
Businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of between £15,000 and less than £51,000 may be eligible for a grant of £25,000.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)
This temporary Loan Scheme supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years.
The government will cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so smaller businesses will benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments. The loans will be guaranteed by the government up to 80%.
These loans are accessed through the bank used by your business. If you have an existing loan with monthly repayments, you may want to ask for a repayment holiday to help with cash flow.
As of 3 April 2020, the government has made several changes to the scheme. It is now applicable to businesses regardless if they have been refused a loan on commercial terms. It also aims to help larger firms (with revenues between £45m and £500m) by offering government-backed loans of up to £25m.
Please be aware of scams relating to any of the above. If someone texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help or are owed a tax refund, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, it is a scam.
More information can be found at this link:
If you have any questions, please get in touch.
Please keep safe.
TaxAgility Chartered Accountants
The information contained in this newsletter is of a general nature and no assurance of accuracy can be given. It is not a substitute for specific professional advice in your own circumstances. No action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice. Therefore, no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a consequence of the material can be accepted by the authors or the firm.