Hi everyone. Please see below some updates and clarifications on some of the help that is out there for you and your businesses during the coronavirus situation.
Check back regularly to the HMRC website for updates on everything coronavirus related, but we all need to be prepared that nothing will be instant, even once the systems are in place.
The HMRC Business Support Unit can be reached here or on by calling 0300 456 3565, open Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm. They will be able to tell you about any specific financial help that may be available to you, but understandably the wait times to speak to anyone are very long at the moment.
Many of the other HMRC phone numbers are operating reduced hours as staff are moved to other areas or self isolating, so be prepared for longer waits.
The important things to know at this stage are:
- Businesses will not have to make VAT payments that were due in the period from 20 March until 30 June 2020. They will be given until 5th April 2021 to pay the amounts owing without accruing any penalties. This will apply to all businesses, regardless of size, and it applies automatically so you do not have to apply for the deferral. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
- If you pay your VAT via Direct Debit and do not wish for HMRC to take the VAT payment then please cancel your DD as soon as possible because otherwise it will automatically be taken after your return is filed.
- Any amounts owing for VAT for periods previous to March that were being paid on an agreed payment plan can also be deferred, but we advise that you speak to HMRC to get confirmation of this as those deferments are not automatic like those post March.
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least 3 months starting from 1 March 2020. It is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). Employers can claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that wage. Employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.
- The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19).This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed.
- At the moment it is not clear how this will apply to self-employed people working through their own companies, but its looks almost certain that dividends will be excluded.
- There will be a temporary suspension of “wrongful trading” rules which make it a criminal offence for a company to keep trading if they know the business is unable to repay its debts. The new rules allow companies undergoing restructuring to continue to access supplies and raw materials. This will also remove the threat of Directors having personal liability for their business and will apply retrospectively from March 1.
- Please be aware that scam texts and emails are being sent by fraudsters about claiming your COVID-19 business payments, and asking you to follow a link that takes you to a fake website designed to look like the official HMRC website. HMRC will NEVER contact in this way for any payment so please do not be fooled into entering your information.
- Businesses that cannot afford to pay their tax bills (corporation tax, PAYE, etc) as a result of coronavirus can contact HMRC to see if they will agree to a ‘time to pay’ agreement which would suspend debt collection, but each case will be different and HMRC may not grant the extension.
- Companies House has granted a three month extension to filing year end statutory accounts if required. While companies will still have to apply for the 3-month extension to be granted, those citing issues around COVID-19 will be automatically and immediately granted an extension. Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which will take just 15 minutes to complete, but that is not yet active.
- Please note that at present, there has been no extension to the payment or filing deadline for the corresponding corporation tax return, nor for any VAT, PAYE or CIS filing, so we advise you to file as normal even if you cannot pay to avoid any further penalties.
- At present there has been no change to filing and payment deadlines for auto-enrolment pensions so continue to file and pay as normal if you can.
- The increase in national minimum wage and living wage is still scheduled to come into force on 1st April.
- HMRC have set up a dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559 to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus. The helpline is open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 8am to 4pm.
- Our top ten tips on how to reduce coronavirus risk at your workplace can be found here and our top ten tips for working at home can be found here.