This applies to any person taxed as a self-employed trader during 2020-21 – it includes non-incorporated property businesses (buy-to-let owners for example).

Did you make a loss or suffer reduced profits during 2020-21?

If you are self-employed and suffered a loss or reduction in profits taxable during the 2020-21 tax year, we need your co-operation to access your accounting records as soon as possible.

The trading year applicable will be the year ending 31 March 2021 (5 April 2021) or if your trading year is not the end of March, then the records for the year ending between April 2020 and March 2021, for example, 31 December 2020.

Why we are making this request

There are two reasons for making this request:

  1. If your taxable, self-employed earnings are less for the tax year 2020-21 – as compared to 2019-20 – we may be able to file an election with the tax office to have any self-assessment tax payments due 31 July 2021 reduced or possibly eliminated. We may also be able to recover some or all of any payment on account you made 31 January 2021.
  2. If you actually made a tax loss during 2020-21, we may be able to carry the tax loss back and recover tax paid in earlier years.

 What we need from you

If you keep manual records, perhaps on a spreadsheet, let us have the information you usually send as soon as you can. The year we need to cover is to 31 March 2021 or the trading year that ends during the tax year 2020-21.

If your accounts are kept on a computer, and we have access to the data, we will just need your confirmation that all transactions are completed for the relevant year.

If your records are computerized and we do not have access to the data, please send us copies of the reports we usually receive from you.

Support grants received during 2020-21

Do not forget that any support grants received during the last year will be taxable. For example, payments received under the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

We can help

Please call if you feel that this applies to your circumstances, but you are unsure what information we require, or if you need clarification of the information we need.

We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Since April 2020, all UK residential properties disposed of by UK resident taxpayers – that create a taxable gain for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) purposes – will have to be reported to HMRC within 30-days of the disposal. Any CGT payable will have to be paid over to HMRC in the same 30-day window. Generally, this will include sales of second homes and buy-to-let property.

What if I sell a property and don’t make a taxable profit?

The new 30-day disclosure deadline only applies, in practice, to property disposals that create a taxable gain. For example, if you sell a buy-to-let property and make a loss on sale you will not have to make a return within the 30-day window.

Does this mean I have to submit a tax return every time I sell a property?

Effectively, yes it does, although restricted to details of any property disposal that creates a chargeable gain. Penalties may apply if you file outside the 30-day window.

How do I work out how much tax is payable?

As part of the 30-day submission to HMRC, you are required to estimate the amount of CGT payable based on your present understanding of the factors that affect this liability. As your other earnings will determine if the CGT you pay is at 18% or 28% – or a mix of the two – estimating these other earnings and getting the number crunching right will be no mean feat.

During the 30-day window you will need to: prepare a formal computation and a calculation of the CGT due, and submit both to HMRC, and pay any CGT this computation reveals.

At the end of tax year during which you made the disposal you will also need to include the computation again as part of your actual return. This annual confirmation of the gain may result in an over or under payment of tax as the annual return will be based on actual data and not the estimated data used to comply with the 30-day rule.

We can help. Read the section that follows.

Advise us in advance if you intend to sell a chargeable property

  1. Prior to the completion date, advise us which property is to be sold and the estimated selling price and sales costs.
  2. We will immediately draw together the data we have about the property and confirm with you that this is correct. This will not only include the purchase price, but also improvements made since you bought the property.
  3. We will use this information to prepare a draft computation (based on our prior knowledge of your tax affairs) and advise you of the possible CGT payable 30-days after the sale completes.
  4. When the sale does complete, we can then adjust the numbers for any final changes in the sale particulars and agree the computation with you.
  5. Once agreed, we can file the CGT computation with HMRC and advise you when and where you should pay any tax due.

To meet these relatively new reporting regulations, we will need to move quickly to meet the 30-day deadline and would request that you contact us immediately if you are planning to sell.

You will be contacted by HMRC – here’s why…

If you commenced self-employment after 5 April 2019

If you started your self-employment after 5 April 2019, you were initially denied support under the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and the first three quarterly pay outs to 31 January 2021.

Thanks to a change in the recent Budget, you may be eligible – for the first time – to grants that will be made available for the quarter end 30 April 2021 and a final period to 30 September 2021.

 HMRC are adding a further security check

To counter fraudulent use of the SEISS scheme, HMRC have decided to contact taxpayers who became self-employed during 2019-20, and who submitted a self-assessment return for that period.

What will the letter say?

The letter will tell you to expect a telephone call on the number provided on your tax return. If our contact details were added to your return, HMRC will ask us to pass on your contact number.

On this occasion we cannot deal directly with HMRC and they will need to speak with you to obtain proof of identity and evidence of trade in the form of bank statements.

Why a letter and then a phone call?

Here’s what HMRC said:

We are aware of increased scam activity related to HMRC’s coronavirus support schemes. The purpose of the letter is to explain to you that this is a genuine call, and to give customers details on how to recognise it as such.

Worried about HMRC calling you?

HMRC’s reason for this added layer of security seems to be to exclude fraudsters from making claims. but if you have any concerns regarding this process, please call us on 01242 370298.

 

Nearly 1.8m late filers miss tax return deadline late-filing-300x169

More than 10.7m taxpayers filed their tax returns by 31 January. Yet nearly 15% didn’t make the deadline. This is almost twice the amount reported last year.

On the day after the self assessment deadline, HMRC had received 10,743,387 returns (which includes expected returns, unsolicited returns and late registrations). Another 1.8m are still outstanding.

The majority of the tax returns (95.6%) were submitted online, which inches ahead of the 93% of returns filed this way in 2020.

However, HMRC noted that due to the unusual filing patterns this year, the final figure for 31 January may end up lower, as the 392,000 unsolicited returns/late registrations are an estimate based on returns received by early January.

Late filers up on last year

Although the filing rates were on track at the start of the month, the remaining tax returns are up on the 958,296 late filers this time last year. After HMRC’s decision to waive late filing penalty, the 1,790,368 taxpayers who still need to file will not incur an immediate £100 fine as long as they submit their tax return online by 28 February.

HMRC will also not charge late filing penalties for SA700s and SA970s received in February, which can only be filed by paper; and SA800s and SA900s.

While these late filers have some breathing space on the penalty, interest will still be chargeable on any tax not paid by the 31 January due date. HMRC is encouraging these taxpayers to pay an estimated amount as soon as possible to minimise any interest.

A 5% late payment penalty will be charged if tax remains outstanding, and a payment plan has not been set up, before 3 March 2021.

Karl Khan, HMRC’s interim director general for customer services, reiterated that HMRC will not send anyone a late filing penalty as long as they meet the 28 February due date: “We know that many individuals and small businesses are finding it harder to pay this year, due to the pandemic. Anyone who can’t afford to pay their tax bill in full can set up a payment plan, once they’ve filed their return, to spread their tax bill into monthly instalments.”

Last week HMRC’s chief executive Jim Harra waived late penalties after recognising the “immense pressure that many people are facing in these unprecedented times”.

HMRC - Changes to late filing penalty for 2019/20 Self Assessment returns hmrc-300x157

 

HMRC has announced that Self Assessment customers will not receive a penalty for filing their 2019/20 tax return late, as long as they file online by 28‌‌ ‌February. We are still encouraging customers who have not yet filed to do so by 31‌‌ ‌January, if possible.

Customers still need to pay their Self Assessment tax bill by 31‌‌ ‌January. Interest will be charged from 1‌‌ ‌February on any outstanding liabilities. Customers can pay online, or through their bank, or by post before they file.

If any customer cannot afford to pay by 31‌‌ ‌January, they may be able to set up an affordable plan and pay in monthly instalments. But they will need to file their 2019/20 tax return before setting up a time to pay arrangement.

More information is available on GOV.UK.

 

Have you filed your tax return yet? Tax-time-300x180

HMRC are urging everyone to file their tax return before the deadline of 31 January 2021. They expect 12.1 million returns to be filed this year and 55% have already been submitted, however there are roughly 5.4 million yet to be done!

Once it is completed, you will know how much tax to pay and HMRC can also help set up payment plans to help spread the cost of the liabilities, up to the value of £30,000. HMRC have said that they are ready to offer support to those who are yet to file their returns or are worried about paying their tax bill, but you must act now so they can help before the deadline.

If you need any assistance with submitting your return, please get in touch on 01242 370298 or email office@wfrancisandco.co.uk


HMRC finally released guidance on the operation of the twin job support schemes that both start on 1 November 2020. Please read below for the essential details.

There are now two job support schemes (JSS). The original one designed for businesses that are legally required to close is now called JSS Closed, and the other one introduced by the Chancellor on 22 October for businesses that remain open but with employees working reduced hours is now called JSS Open.

The schemes may be used by the same business concurrently for different employees if it has premises in different areas, some of which are completely closed. A business could also move between the two schemes as the restrictions for the area it operates in change.

Businesses that qualify

The more generous JSS Closed can only be used by businesses which are required to close by the coronavirus regulations, such as under the tier 3 restrictions in England, or the similarly regulations in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. However, where premises are restricted to delivery or collection services, or to serving food outdoors, they count as “closed” if located in a restricted area.

All other small and medium sized businesses can use JSS Open if some or all of their employees are working reduced hours.

Large employers (with 250 or more employees on 23 September 2020) wanting to use JSS Open must also show that their trade has been affected by coronavirus. The VAT returns filed between 31 August and 7 November 2020 must show level or reduced sales (looking at box 6 totals) compared with the VAT returns for the same period in 2019. Group VAT returns should be used, not those for individual companies.

There are also common conditions for both JSS Open and JSS Closed (see below).

JSS Open

The JSS initially proposed in September has been transformed into something closely resembling the CJRS which closes on 31 October. A new factsheet sets out a number of examples, but further legislation and more guidance is expected very soon.

Under JSS Open the employee must work at least 20% of their usual working hours (defined as per the CJRS), which would amount to one day of a normal five-day working week. This reduction in hours must be agreed in writing with the employee.

The employer must pay for all of the worked hours at the employee’s agreed reference salary, plus up to 5% of the value of the hours not worked, up to £125 per month, but the employer may top-up this figure if they wish to. The reference salary will be capped at £3,125 per month, and defined in a similar way to CJRS.

The JSS grant will cover up to two thirds of the hours not worked, capped at £1541.75 per month.

The employer must pay all of the employer’s national insurance (NIC) on all of the wages the employee receives plus any employer’s minimum contribution to a workplace pension.

An employee who works for 20% of their contracted hours will receive:

  • 20% of pay for worked time
  • 4% (5% x 80%) of pay for non-worked time, capped at £125 per month
  • 49.33 of pay (61.66% x 80%) for non-worked time, capped at £1541.75 per month

In total the employee receives 73.33% of their pay and foregoes 26.67% of their normal pay.

Example 1: Joe the campaigner and JSS Open

Joe is a campaigner employed by Biden Ltd on an annual salary of £36,000, or £3,000 per month. In a normal month he would work 225 hours, which is £13.33 per hour.Joe has agreed to work 45 hours per month for £600. To qualify for the JSS Open, Biden must pay Joe for 5% of his remaining normal hours: £120 (9 x £13.33). The JSS grant should cover the cost of 61.67% of the total 180 non-working hours: £1,479.63 (111 x £13.33).Joe receives pay of £2,199.63 (600 + 120 + 1,479.63), which is 73.33% of his normal pay.Biden Ltd must bear the cost of £720 (600 + 120), plus the employer’s NIC on the full amount paid of £2,199.63 and any relevant workplace pension contributions for Joe.

JSS Closed

Under this scheme the grant will cover for two thirds of the normal pay of furloughed employees, who cannot work at all, up to a maximum of £2,083.33 per month. The employee must give up one third of their wages, and will have to agree to that change in their employment contract in writing if they are not already on a zero hours contract.

Example 2: Donny the chef and JSS Closed

Donny is a chef employed by Trump, on a salary of £32,000 or £2,666.67 per month. Trump’s burger bar is closed as it is located in a tier 3 zone.Trump can claim for two thirds of Donny’s monthly salary (£1777.78) under the JSS Closed. Trump will also have to pay the employer’s NIC on that salary plus the minimum employer’s contribution the workplace pension, if Donny has not opted out of that scheme.Donny will receive £1777.78 before tax and NIC deductions, which is two thirds of his normal salary.

JSS common conditions

The twin JSS grants schemes will run from 1 November 2020 to 30 April 2021, with the conditions to be reviewed in January 2021. The employer need not have claimed under the CJRS to use either JSS. Publicly funded bodies are not expected to use either JSS.

The other conditions for both JSS are as follows:

  • The employer must have a UK, Isle of Man or Channel Island bank account
  • The employer must use PAYE online
  • Only payments to eligible employees qualify for the grants (see below)
  • Large businesses are strongly discouraged from paying dividends or returning capital to shareholders while using the scheme.

Which employees are eligible?

There is some difference between the advice on the JSS Open factsheet and the gov.uk guidance on this point.

The factsheet says employees must be on the payroll of the employer between 6 April 2019 and 23 September 2020, and included on at least one RTI return in that period that was submitted before midnight on 23 September 2020. This implies the employee does not have to be employed for that entire period, and employment at some point in the period would qualify.

The gov.uk guidance says the employee must be employed on 23 September 2020. But if the employee has been made redundant since that point and rehired (implied by the same employer), they are an eligible employee.

Any person who is taxed as an employee is an eligible employee for JSS, which would include contractors subject to IR35 and agency workers.

Claims

Employers will be able to claim under either JSS from 8 December 2020, although the first claim period can’t start before 1 November 2020. Where the pay period straddles 1 November 2020, separate claims will have to be submitted under CJRS and JSS.

The claims must be made for minimum seven-day periods, but employees can cycle in and out of the JSS Open and do not have to work the same pattern each month.

A claim can’t be submitted for a particular employee until that employee’s wages have been paid and reported under RTI. This is to reduce fraud, but means the employer has to fund the entire payment to the employee in advance.

Further detailed guidance on how to make claims under either JSS will be published shortly.

Transparency

HMRC will publish the names of the employers which use either JSS Open or JSS Closed.

Employees will be able to check if their employer has made a JSS claim relating to them via their personal tax account. This feature is designed to prevent employers from claiming JSS while also asking employees to work.

HMRC has clarified its practice for employees to claim a £6 per week homeworking tax deduction, but this may be a temporary concession for 2020/21.

In May 2020 HMRC changed its approach for employees who wished to claim a tax deduction for the costs they incur when working at home.

Until that point, there was a mismatch between employees who had agreed a homeworking arrangement with their employer who paid them a home working allowance (up to £6 per week), and employees who worked at home but didn’t receive the allowance.

Those who didn’t get the allowance could claim a deduction for the additional expenses incurred by using their home as their workplace, such as energy and telephone calls, but those extra costs were difficult to quantify so most people didn’t bother to claim.

How much?

HMRC’s change in practice has permitted employees, who are required to work at home, to claim £6 per week (£26 per month) as a deductible expense against their employment income, if they don’t receive the full homeworking allowance from their employer.

There is still a mismatch of-course, as the employee who receives the homeworking allowance has an additional £312 per year of tax-free (and NIC-free) money in their pocket. Whereas the employee who claims a tax deduction of £312 for the year will receive a tax refund of £62.40 (20% taxpayer), £124.80 (40% taxpayer) or £140.40 (45% taxpayer). These figures will vary slightly for Scottish residents. Those claimants won’t receive a refund of Class 1 NIC paid on their earnings.

Full-time or part-time?

In his blog, Martin Lewis raised a valid question over the required element of the homeworking deduction.

Where employees are given the choice of continuing to work at home or returning to the office, could the homeworking deduction still be claimed for the part of the working time spent at home?

HMRC has bowed to the pressure from Lewis, and the professional bodies, to clarify this point and has agreed that employees can claim the full £6 per week deduction even if they now split their time between their home and the office. The deduction does not need to be pro-rated if part of the employee’s working time is spent in the office and part at home.

The HMRC guidance says the employee must work at home on a regular basis to claim the deduction, so two weeks spent working at home while self-isolating won’t allow the employee to claim the homeworking deduction for the full tax year. Although ICAEW is reporting that if an employee has told HMRC they are working from home, and then later in the tax year they return to the office full time, there is no requirement for the employee to tell HMRC about this change in working location.

How to claim? 

HMRC is now actively encouraging employees to make claims for their homeworking costs through a new online portal that opened on 1 October. It says that over 54,800 people have already made such a claim.

Where an online claim is submitted now the employee’s PAYE code will be altered so the tax relief is given at source for the rest of this tax year.

Alternatively, the employee can claim in their self-assessment tax return after the end of the tax year, or submit a form P87, online or by post.

What about future years?

The claim for homeworking costs does not automatically roll-over to the next tax year, so the new claim will be needed for 2021/22 if the employee is still working at home in that period.

However, the ICAEW understands that HMRC will withdraw the concession for a flat rate amount to be claimed when the coronavirus pandemic is over. In that case, the employee who does not receive the allowance from their employer would have to prove they are incurring additional costs by working at home.

Deductions for the self-employed 

Self-employed individuals can claim a similar simplified deduction of up to £26 per month in their accounts, but the amount that can be claimed depends on the use of the property as follows:

Hours home used for business per month Deduction per month
25 to 50 £10
51 to 100 £18
101 or more £26

On this basis, the employee is better off as there is no minimum time set for the employee to work at home per week or month to claim the homeworking deduction.

A self-employed person can alternatively claim the business proportion of the actual costs of running the home, which may result in a higher deduction, especially where a large proportion of the home is used.

 

As announced by the Chancellor last week, Self Assessment customers can now apply online to spread the cost of their tax bill into monthly payments without the need to call HMRC.

The online self-serve ‘Time to Pay’ service, has been increased to £30,000 for Self Assessment customers, to help ease any potential financial burden they may be experiencing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Once you’ve completed your tax return for the 2019-20 tax year, you can use the online self-serve ‘Time to Pay’ service through GOV.UK to set up a direct debit and pay any tax that is owed in monthly instalments, up to a 12-month period.

If you wish to set up your own self-serve ‘Time to Pay’, you must meet the following requirements:

  • no outstanding tax returns
  • no other tax debts
  • no other HMRC payments set up
  • your Self Assessment tax bill is between £32 and £30,000
  • it is no more than 60 days since the tax was due for payment.

If you do not meet these requirements, you might still qualify for Time to Pay, but you will need to call HMRC to set this up.

If you set up a ‘Time to Pay’ arrangement, you will have to pay interest on the tax paid late. Interest will be applied to any outstanding balance from 1 February 2021.