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Corona Update 27th March 2020

Corona Information For Businesses as at 27th March 2020

Job Retention Scheme

  • Employers can claim a grant of up to 80% of salaries of employees who would have been laid off during this crisis. This is subject to a cap of £2,500 per month plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on paying those wages.
  • Employers must designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers’ and notify the employees of this change.
  • To qualify for this scheme: workers should not undertake work while furloughed.
  • Employers submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal.  The portal is not available yet.
  • HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.
  • Employers can claim for:
    • full-time employees
    • part-time employees
    • employees on agency contracts
    • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts
  • Workers must have been on your payroll on 28 February 2020.
  • The scheme also covers employees who were made redundant since 28 February 2020, if they are rehired by their employer.
  • Employees on sick leave or self-isolating should get Statutory Sick Pay, but can be furloughed after this.
  • Employees who are shielding in line with public health guidance can be placed on furlough.
  • There is an updated information page here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Self-employment Income Support Scheme

  • You can claim 80% of your trading profits up to £2,500 per month for three months
  • It is a grant which means it is not repayable although will have to be accounted for in your next set of accounts
  • You must be Self- employed or a member of a partnership
  • Your 2019 tax return must have been submitted (although if it hasn’t you have four weeks to do so (23rd April 2020 deadline)
  • You must be trading or would be if it were not for the Corona Virus
  • You must intend to trade in the tax year 20/21
  • You must have made losses due to Covid -19
  • Your trading profits must be less than £50,000 (this is an average of last three years profits) and more than half of your total taxable income
  • The grant will be paid directly into your bank account in one payment
  • You cannot apply for this scheme HMRC will contact you if you are eligible
  • You can read full government information here:   https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

VAT
You do not need to make any VAT payments during the period 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020.

  • This is a deferral of tax and not an exemption.
  • This is an automatic offer with no applications required.
  • VAT deferred during this period will have to be paid by the end of 2020.
  • It will still be necessary to submit all VAT returns as normal.

Income Tax
Anyone in the Self Assessment tax regime can defer payment of their July 2020 payment on account

  • Payment will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.
  • This is an automatic offer with no applications required.
  • It will still be possible to have the payments on account reduced for the July payment if you expect profits to be reduced

IR35 & off-payroll working

  • HM Treasury have said they intend to postpone the introduction of the Off-payroll working rules to the private sector.
  • The extension of the off-payroll working rules was due to commence on 6 April 2020. The start date is now be deferred to 6 April 2021.

See IR35 changes postponed

Business Rates

  • Existing small business rate relief continues to apply, this provides full relief for businesses using a single property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.
  • A business rate holiday applies to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020/21 tax year.
  • Pubs are given a rates discount of £5,000.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority. Guidance for local authorities on the business rates holiday will be published by 20 March.
Cash grants: via local authorities

  • A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
  • A one-off grant of £10,000 to around 700,000 businesses currently eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief.

Funding for the scheme will be provided to local authorities by the government in early April. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.

The situation in Scotland is slightly different for Business rates and the local authority grants.  I have summarised the situation in Scotland below:
The non-domestic rates reliefs and grant funding measures announced by the chancellor only apply only in England. They do not apply in Scotland.

  • 1.6% rates relief for all non-domestic properties.
  • 100% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses
  •  Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value between £18,001 and up to and including £50,999 will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £25,000.
  • If your business is in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme Relief you can apply for a one off £10,000 grant.
  • You can also get this grant if you applied for Nursery ReliefBusiness Growth Accelerator or Disabled Relief but are eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme.
  • You can only apply for one grant – even if you own multiple properties.
  • You will need to fill out an application for these grants which will be available on your local council website

SMEs: Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

  • A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be delivered by the British Business Bank.
  • This is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.
  • The scheme is covered by the government and will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs.
  • The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value.
  • The scheme will be open for six months with loan terms of up to 3 years.
  • Businesses can access the first twelve months of that finance interest-free, as the government will cover the first twelve months of interest payments.
  • To be eligible businesses must:
    • Be UK based with annual turnover of up to £45 million.
    • Generate more than 50% of their turnover from trading activity.
    • Have a borrowing proposal which would, were it not for COVID-19, be considered viable by the lender to enable your business to trade out of any short-to-medium term difficulties. The scheme became available from 23 March 2020. Details of the first set of lenders providing access to the scheme can be found here.
  • More details will be announced in the coming days. Businesses are advised to approach their existing lender and to apply through the lender’s own website in the first instance. They can then try other lenders if their own lender cannot help.

Business taxes: Time to Pay

  • All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.
  • These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
  • It is essential to contact HMRC and make a Time To Pay agreement before the tax debt becomes due.

If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
Insurance
Standard business interruption policies are unlikely to cover a pandemic. You need to check your policy wording and contact your insurer.

HMRC late payment interest rate cut
HMRC interest rates for late payments will be revised after the Bank of England interest rate reduction to 0.1%.
These changes will come into effect on:

  • 30 March 2020 for quarterly instalment payments
  • 7 April 2020 for non-quarterly instalments payments

Repayment interest rates remain unchanged.
The rate for underpayments of quarterly instalments is reduced to 1.25% from 23 March 2020. Added 24/03/2020.

Landlords & Tenants
New measures have been announced which apply to private or social accommodation. Added 21/03/2020.

  • Landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a 3 month period.
  • Landlords whose tenants are experiencing financial difficulties due to coronavirus will receive a 3 month mortgage payment holiday.
  • At the end of this period, landlords and tenants are expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.

 

2019/20 Salary Dividend Planning – Save Tax !

It is a long established practice that small businesses who are structured as a Limited Company might pay themselves a small salary and dividends to potentially save tax.

However in the run up to this tax year there have been multiple legislative changes that have affected the most tax efficient way of doing this. So all small Limited Companies should be reviewing their remuneration strategy with their accountant to check that it is still the best way forward.

Salary Level:

  • The abolition of the Employer’s Allowance for one Director Companies has actually simplified the issues around what is the best salary to take.
  • There is no point in paying additional National Insurance in order to save a smaller amount of tax.
  • Therefore in the majority of cases small business owners should be paying themselves a salary of £8,632 a year.

The advantages of this are:

  • No National Insurance,
  • A year’s credit toward the State Pension (now need 35 years)

Dividends:

  • The Dividend Tax allowance has been reduced to £2,000 from April 6th 2018

New Scottish Tax Bands:

  • There are new Scottish tax bands from the 5th April 2018 which along with the dividend allowance and the savings allowance make planning remuneration even more complex than it was before.

There are a number of ways of mitigating dividend tax including transferring shares to your spouse, Company Pension contributions and employing members of your family where they are actually doing proper work for your business.

Give us a call if you would like a review of your remuneration strategy.

MTD for VAT cheatsheet

MTD for VAT is fast approaching. This cheatsheet shows some helpful information and resources that should assist a smooth transition.

Who has to register and what records do you need to keep:

From April 2019 VAT registered businesses and organisations with taxable turnover above the VAT threshold of £85,000 will be required to:

    • Maintain their accounting records digitally in a software product or spreadsheet. Maintaining paper records will cease to meet the legal requirements in tax legislation.
    • Submit their VAT returns to HMRC using a functional compatible software product that can access HMRC’s API (Application Program Interfaces) platform.

The requirements do not apply to VAT registered businesses with taxable turnover below the VAT threshold (eg, those that have registered voluntarily).

What does this mean in practice:

  • You must be doing your book keeping in a package. Ideally a cloud package like Xero, Quickbooks Online, or Freeagent. Or on the desktop with MTD enabled software like Sage 50. You must then use this software to submit your returns.
  • You must register with HMRC for MTD VAT. This is a new requirement so everyone must do this.
  • You must configure your software to use the MTD portal.

What are the key dates?:

We recommend that assuming you have suitable software you take action the day after the submission of your last non MTD VAT return. This will give you 3 months to ensure you have registered with HMRC and switched your software to use the new system.

  • March/June/September/December VAT periods
    • First mandatory VAT period: 1st April to 30th June 2019
    • Deadline for first MTD VAT return: 7th August 2019
    • Take action date: 8th May 2019
  • April/July/October/January VAT periods
    • First mandatory VAT period: 1st May to 31st July 2019
    • Deadline for first MTD VAT return: 7th September 2019
    • Take action date: 8th June 2019
  • May/August/November/February VAT periods
    • First mandatory VAT period: 1st June to 31st August 2019
    • Deadline for first MTD VAT return: 7th October 2019
    • Take action date: 8th July 2019

How to register with HMRC:

HMRC have published a handy video on Youtube to show how to register with HMRC:

HMRC MTD VAT Video

How to switch your software to using MTD:

We will Publish seperate articles on this as the software vendors publish information.

If you need more information please get in touch: Contact Us

Client Focus – Automatic Protection Ltd

Automatic Protection Ltd in Biggar have been a client of ours since 2013. They were established in January 2001 by Father and Son team Neil and Stuart Harrison. Based in the border town of Biggar, South Lanarkshire, APL has over 45 years of experience in the fire and security industry with unparalleled expertise in Automatic Fire Extinguishing & Fire Suppression systems. See more details at: http://www.autoproltd.co.uk

 

Making Tax Digital Latest

Making Tax Digital – The Short Version

Making Tax Digital sounds complex but in the first phase all that it means is that all VAT registered businesses must be submitting VAT returns straight from Software starting in April next year.

Making Tax Digital – The Slightly Longer Version

HMRC’s Making Tax Digital initiative is edging ever closer. So with just six months to go until it comes in here is a review of where we are.

Here is HMRC’s take on it https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/making-tax-digital-how-vat-businesses-and-other-vat-entities-can-get-ready/making-tax-digital-how-vat-businesses-and-other-vat-entities-can-get-ready

Whilst the later phases are still clouded in confusion, the initial phase which covers VAT is now coming and clients will need to submit their VAT returns straight from software. No more totting up invoices on a calculator and then typing the VAT return numbers in to the HMRC VAT portal. It isn’t even clear if a spreadsheet will suffice.

So the bottom line is that in practice all VAT registered businesses should be converting to electronic book keeping by the end of 2018 to be ready for the change. Clients using old unsupported versions of Sage will either have to upgrade to the latest version or even better convert to a cloud accounting package.

Many of our clients wont notice the difference as the are already on Xero, Freeagent or Kashflow either supported by us or with us doing their book keeping. However the few that are still calculating VAT returns manually and then giving us a shoe box at the end of the year will need to convert as soon as possible.

If you are unsure about what you need to do give us a call and we will point you in the right direction.

There is more detail on Making Tax Digital here from the Tax Institute. https://www.tax.org.uk/policy-technical/technical-news/making-tax-digital-vat-main-issues-consideration

IR35 2018 update

First introduced in 2000 the IR35 rules (more correctly known as the intermediaries legislation for income tax) have forever since been a source of stress and worry for contractors. Someone who works in a “Personal Service Company” is supposed to do a self assessment as to whether they are caught by the legislation that in effect says that they are a disguised employee. If so they then have to pay a deemed payment to themselves through PAYE as described here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-calculate-the-deemed-employment-payment

The practical upshot is that if the deemed payment is applied then the contractor ends up paying the Employer’s and Employee’s National Insurance. Not a scenario most would want. So many contractors assume they are outside IR35 and proceed as such.

Contractors can use HMRC’s CEST tool to try and determine their status. But this tool is potentially not always accurate. HMRC lost yet another tribunal recently https://www.ipse.co.uk/our/news-listing/defeat-puts-to-pasture-hmrc-s-argument-about-moo.html where CEST may well have not reported the answer that the judge found.

Another change came in April 2017 when the Government brought in rules to tighten up the use of contractors in the public sector. The IR35 status decision in Public Sector contracts is now made by the client, not the contractor. The risk of getting the status wrong now resides with the client. This might seem good for the Contractor but in practice has led to the reduction of Public Sector contracts that are available.

If this all seems opaque then there is possibly more to come. The Autumn budget 2017 contained the information that the Government would be consulting about extending the new Public Sector IR35 rules to the private sector. So watch this space!

If you would like common sense advice on a potential or existing contract that you have please give us a call or fill in the contact form below.

 

Class 2 NI Not Abolished After All!

The government announced the abolition of Class 2 NI last year.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-abolishing-class-2-national-insurance-and-introducing-a-contributory-benefit-test-to-class-4-national-insurance-for-the-self-employed/the-abolition-of-class-2-national-insurance-introducing-a-benefit-test-into-class-4-national-insurance-for-the-self-employed

However as is so often the case the law of unintended consequences kicked in and this week the government announced that Class 2 would not be abolished after all.

One of the consequences of this change was that people with self employed profits below £5965 (18-19 rate) would not receive a credit for that year towards their state pension. Currently a person needs 35 years of National Insurance credit to get the new flat rate state pension. https://www.gov.uk/new-state-pension/how-its-calculated

In this case a person would have to pay Class 3 National Insurance at a rate nearly 5 times the rate of Class 2! So for example if a person was starting a business and made losses in the first year they would either not get a credit towards their state pension or have to pay £761.80 (18-19 rate) in Class 3 contributions.

The U Turn has widely been reported as the reversal of a tax cut for the self employed https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/philip-hammond-tax-cut-self-employed-scrap-conservatives-national-insurance-contributions-nic-class-a8526236.html

However for low paid Self Employed workers paying Class 2 NICs is an essential method of ensuring they get the full state pension.

New VAT Reverse Charge for Construction Industry Labour

The Autumn Budget of 2017 announced that there would be a change to the VAT regime for Contractor Labour starting in October 2019. Similar to the existing CIS scheme this will mean that VAT charged on labour will be paid over by the recipient of the labour service rather than the supplier.

This means yet another scheme for contractors to run alongside CIS when using subcontractors.

The government published a response to their consultation on the 1st of December 2017. In it they confirmed that:

  • The scope of the reverse charge will follow the Construction Industry Scheme definition of construction services.
  • There will be no threshold applicable to the measure and no exemption for Flat Rate Scheme users (even though they will effectively have to leave the scheme to be able to recover VAT on the costs).
  • Sales to the final customer in the chain will not be covered by the reverse charge. Respondents to the initial consultation warned that there may be particular definition issues for joint ventures and special purpose vehicles in the voluntary and public sectors so the definition of ‘the final customer’ will be subject to further consultation in Spring 2018.

If you would like any advice on how this will affect your Contracting business please get in touch!

Accelerated Capital Gains Tax on Property Sales from 2020

A change in coming in April 2020 that will affect landlords and second home owners when they come to sell up.

In the past a Capital Gain on the sale of a second property could be  reported in a self assessment return. This meant that if a gain was made on the 6th of April that the tax would not be due for nearly 22 months! The gain would be reported at the end of the tax year and the tax wouldn’t be due until January 31st of the following year.

Full details here.

Consultation has just finished on a change that will mean that payment will be due withing 30 days of the disposal. The seller will have to submit a “payment on account” return at the same time.

Obviously this wont affect people selling their main residence as Principle Primary Residence Relief normally applies.

Get in touch if you are thinking of selling a rental or holiday home.

Click here to go to our homepage and fill in the contact form and we will get back to you.

 

Xero Silver Partners

Sutherland Black have just become a Xero Silver Partner! This recognises our rapid growth in bringing Xero to our clients. Our listing on the Xero website has been updated with our new status: https://www.xero.com/uk/advisors/accountant/2012/sutherland-black-chartered-accountants/

The advantages of Cloud Book Keeping software are clear to see for our clients. Automatic bank feeds reduce errors and thanks to open banking direct bank feeds are now available for all the major banks.

Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT is starting from April 2019. Xero will be MTD compliant meaning that clients who already use Xero will not see any impact to their processes. Clients who use spreadsheets and then enter their VAT returns on the HMRC portal will not be able to do this any more. Converting to Xero is an easy way to be MTD ready.

We have helped many of our clients convert to Xero. With MTD looming the pace of conversion will only increase. Give us a call if you would like us to show you how easy it is.

For more information have a look at www.xero.com

Please leave us your details and we will contact you within 24 hours