The Treasury has announced that it plans to recognise stablecoins as a valid form of payment as part of a wider government initiative to ‘make Britain a global hub for cryptoasset technology and investment’.
The Treasury defines ‘stablecoin’ as ‘a form of cryptoasset that is typically pegged to a fiat currency such as the dollar and is intended to maintain a stable value’. The government plans to bring stablecoins within regulation, creating conditions for stablecoin issuers and service providers to operate and invest in the UK.
Commenting on the issue, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:
‘It’s my ambition to make the UK a global hub for cryptoasset technology, and the measures we’ve outlined… will help to ensure firms can invest, innovate and scale up in this country.
‘We want to see the businesses of tomorrow – and the jobs they create – here in the UK, and by regulating effectively we can give them the confidence they need to think and invest long-term.’
The Treasury has announced that it plans to recognise stablecoins as a valid form of payment as part of a wider government initiative to ‘make Britain a global hub for cryptoasset technology and investment’.
HMRC has started to recover overpayments of Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grants.
From April, HMRC is writing to taxpayers whose entitlement to the fourth or the fifth SEISS grant has reduced by more than £100 to ask them to repay amounts that were overpaid.
Entitlement to the fourth and fifth SEISS grants can be affected by an amendment to a tax return. HMRC’s letters include an assessment and a date by which you must make the repayment. If the payment is over 30 days late, a late payment penalty of 5% of the unpaid tax will be applied.
Even if you do not receive a letter, you must tell HMRC within 90 days if an amendment to a tax return affects your entitlement.
Anyone who needs to repay grants can make use of HMRC online tools to help them calculate what they owe. Individuals who receive a letter from HMRC are required to use the payment reference beginning with X when making their repayment.
If you are not able to pay in full, you may be able to set up a Time to Pay arrangement with HMRC.
In his Spring Statement speech, Chancellor Rishi Sunak responded to the latest forecasts as published by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).
The OBR forecasts UK economic growth to be 3.8% in 2022, a significant cut from its previous prediction of 6.0%. The OBR then predicts the economy to grow by 1.8% in 2023 and 2.1% in 2024.
Meanwhile, borrowing is set to more than halve from its post-World War II high of £322 billion (15.0% of GDP) in 2020/21 to £128 billion (5.4% of GDP) in 2021/22.
Borrowing is then predicted to be £16 billion higher in 2022/23 than previously forecast in October.
In its latest forecast, the OBR said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had ‘major repercussions for the global economy’, which has already been severely impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and rising inflation.
The significant rise in gas and oil prices since the start of the conflict will ‘weigh heavily on a UK economy that has only just recovered its pre-pandemic level’, the OBR said.
In regard to rising levels of inflation, the public body said that real living standards are set to fall by 2.2% in 2022/23 and not recover to their pre-pandemic level until 2024/25.
Businesses are being encouraged to apply for remaining coronavirus (COVID-19) grant funding from local authorities.
Hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses can still apply for one-off cash grants of up to £6,000 through the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant scheme.
The funding is made up of £556 million available through the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant (OHLG) scheme and a further £294 million through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) scheme.
The OHLG scheme provides businesses in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors with one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premise.
To provide further support to other businesses, the ARG scheme provides councils with funding they can allocate at their discretion to businesses most in need, such as personal care businesses and supply firms.
Paul Scully, the Minister for Small Business, said:
‘We’re working to get our economy running on all cylinders again so we can focus on making the UK the best place in the world to work and do business, creating jobs along the way.
‘Eligible businesses should apply as soon as possible for the grants available to help them put the pandemic behind them and get on a sounder footing.’
The Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS) will close on 17 March 2022.
The SSPRS was reintroduced by the government on 21 December 2021 for employers with fewer than 250 employees.
The maximum claim per employee is two weeks at the statutory sick pay (SSP) rate of £96.35 per week (£192.70 in total), which is the rate for 2021/22 (£99.35 2022/23). The employer’s claim is also capped at the number of employees in its PAYE scheme on 30 November 2021.
In a statement, the government said:
‘You have until 24 March 2022 to submit any new claims for absence periods up to 17 March 2022, or to amend claims you have already submitted.
‘You will no longer be able to claim back SSP for your employees’ coronavirus-related absences or self-isolation that occur after 17 March 2022.
‘From 25 March we will return to the normal SSP rules, which means you can revert to paying SSP from the fourth qualifying day your employee is off work regardless of the reason for their sickness absence.’
Reports of scam HMRC phone calls have fallen by 97% over the last 12 months, according to the latest figures from the tax authority.
According to HMRC, reports of scammers impersonating HMRC in phone calls peaked at 79,477 in March 2021 and fell to just 2,491 in December 2021.
The fall in scam call reports to HMRC has also been seen elsewhere with a 92% drop in phishing email reports and a 97% drop in scam text reports over the last year.
This signals that the public is more aware of cyber criminals and the methods they use to trick people.
Mike Fell, HMRC’s Head of Cyber Security Operations, said:
‘We work incredibly hard to protect the public from these criminals who ruin lives by stealing from people. It’s great news that fewer people are receiving and reporting these attempted frauds, but it is still important they continue to report suspicious contact to us.
‘We will continue to do everything we can to protect the public from these cynical attempts to impersonate HMRC to steal from people.’
HMRC is waiving late filing and late payment penalties for self assessment taxpayers for one month.
The measure will give those taxpayers affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) extra time, if they need it, to complete their 2020/21 tax return and pay any tax due.
HMRC is still encouraging taxpayers to file and pay on time if they can. The tax authority also revealed of the 12.2 million taxpayers who need to submit their tax return by 31 January 2022, almost 6.5 million have already done so.
The deadline to file and pay remains 31 January 2022. The penalty waivers will mean that:
• anyone who cannot file their return by the 31 January deadline will not receive a late filing penalty if they file online by 28 February; and
• anyone who cannot pay their self assessment tax by the 31 January deadline will not receive a late payment penalty if they pay their tax in full, or set up a Time to Pay arrangement, by 1 April.
However, interest will be payable from 1 February.
Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Deputy Chief Executive and Second Permanent Secretary, said: ‘We know the pressures individuals and businesses are again facing this year, due to the impacts of COVID-19. Our decision to waive penalties for one month for self assessment taxpayers will give them extra time to meet their obligations without worrying about receiving a penalty.’
New rules to help protect pension savers from scammers have become law.
Under the regulations, pension trustees and scheme managers will be given the power to stop suspicious transfers before cash gets into the hands of fraudsters.
Fraudsters frequently offer ‘too good to be true’ incentives to pension savers, such as free pension reviews, early access to pension cash and other time-limited offers. Lured in by these bogus offers, individuals are then tricked into transferring their savings into a scam scheme and defrauded out of their money.
Between January and May 2021, pension scam losses totalling over £2.2 million were reported to Action Fraud.
The new regulations will take force on 30 November. From this date, trustees and scheme managers will be able to prevent transfer requests if suspicious activity is suspected by giving it a ‘red flag’. If a red flag is present, the transfer cannot go ahead.
Where fraud is suspected, trustees and scheme managers will be able to pause transfer requests by giving it an ‘amber flag’. In this scenario, the pension saver will need to prove they have taken scam specific guidance from the free Money and Pensions Service before the transfer can go ahead. This is the only way a transfer can then proceed.
Nicola Parish, The pension Regulator’s (TPR) Executive Director of Frontline Regulation, said:
‘We welcome these new regulations which further empower trustees to act as the first line of defence against scammers.
‘We are pleased these new rules enshrine in legislation two of the key parts of the pledge to combat pension scams – around due diligence measures and issuing members warnings of high-risk transfers.
‘We urge all trustees and pension providers to take note of these new rules and continue to play their part in stopping scams.’
HMRC has warned taxpayers completing their 2020/21 tax returns to ‘be on their guard’ and stay vigilant in regard to tax-related scams.
Nearly 800,000 tax scams were reported in the last year, HMRC revealed. It said that fraudsters use self assessment to attempt to steal money or personal information from taxpayers.
In the last year, HMRC received almost 360,000 bogus tax rebate referrals. HMRC will send more than four million emails and SMS messages this week to self assessment taxpayers, prompting them to think about how they intend to pay their tax bill.
It is warning taxpayers ‘not to be taken in’ by malicious emails, phone calls or texts, and to not mistake them for genuine HMRC communications.
Myrtle Lloyd, Director General for Customer Services at HMRC, said:
‘Scams come in many forms. Some threaten immediate arrest for tax evasion, others offer a tax rebate. Contacts like these should set alarm bells ringing, so if you are in any doubt whether the email, phone call or text is genuine, you can check the ‘HMRC scams’ advice on GOV.UK and find out how to report them to us.’
The self assessment deadline is 31 January 2022.
Homeowners in England and Wales will be offered subsidies of £5,000 from next April to help them to replace old gas boilers with low carbon heat pumps.
The grants are part of the government’s £3.9 billion plan to reduce carbon emissions caused by heating homes and other buildings.
It is hoped no new gas boilers will be sold after 2035. The funding also aims to make social housing and public buildings more energy efficient.
However, experts have stated that the budget is too low and the strategy not ambitious enough. Ministers say the subsidies will make heat pumps a comparable price to a new gas boiler, but the £450 million being allocated for the subsidies over three years will cover a maximum of just 90,000 pumps.
Matthew Fell, Chief Policy Director at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said:
‘£5,000 heat pump grants will help get the ball rolling when it comes to decarbonising homes across the UK. The government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy provides a golden opportunity for both the public and private sector to pick up the pace of progress to net zero.
‘There’s no doubt that the scale of the challenge is considerable. These welcome measures – including the 2035 phase out of new gas boilers – will help consumers and business better prepare to change the way they heat their homes and buildings.’
The government has doubled the period for filing and payment of capital gains tax (CGT) on residential property from 30 days to 60 days.
The measure was announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the recent Autumn Budget.
The change applies from 27 October 2021. It sees the deadline for residents to report and pay CGT after selling UK residential property increase from 30 days after the completion date to 60 days.
For non-UK residents disposing of property in the UK, this deadline will also increase from 30 days to 60 days. When mixed-use property is disposed of by UK residents, legislation will also clarify that the 60-day payment window will only apply to the residential element of the property gain.
The Treasury says that these changes will ensure that taxpayers have sufficient time to report and pay CGT, as recommended by the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS). The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has campaigned for this change for the past 18 months.
Phil Hall, Head of Public Affairs and Public Policy at the AAT, said:
‘It’s a common-sense measure that helps taxpayers and their accountants whilst maintaining increased revenue for the Exchequer. Very pleased that HM Treasury and HMRC took on board the views of our members and changed their position accordingly.’
On 27 October, Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered a Budget to ensure the UK economy bounces back following the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The Chancellor announced that total departmental spending will grow by £150 billion per year in cash terms by 2024/25, marking the largest real term increase in overall departmental spending for any Parliament this century.
Public research and development (R&D) investment will increase to a record level of £20 billion by 2024/25. Combined with R&D tax reliefs, which the government intends to modernise and refocus, total government R&D support as a proportion of GDP is forecasted to increase from 0.7% in 2018 to 1.1% in 2024/25.
The Chancellor unveiled a new temporary business rates relief in England for 2022/23 for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties, worth almost £1.7 billion. The government stated that the reform of business rates will make the system fairer, more responsive and more supportive of investment.
Mr Sunak also announced significant changes to fuel duty and alcohol duties: fuel duty will be frozen at 57.95p per litre for 2022/23, and drinks will be taxed in proportion to their alcohol content, making the system ‘fairer and more conducive to product innovation in response to evolving consumer tastes’.
Meanwhile, the government will give £11.5 billion to help build up to 180,000 affordable homes, whilst an additional £4.7 billion will be invested in the core schools budget in England.
The Chancellor also confirmed that the government will increase the National Living Wage to £9.50 per hour from April 2022 and cut the Universal Credit taper rate from 63p to 55p.
UK workers could get more choice over when and where they work under new proposals to make the right to request flexible working a day one entitlement.
The government will also introduce a day one right to one week’s unpaid leave for carers balancing a job with caring responsibilities. The government says the plans will make for more productive businesses, whilst accommodating both employee and employer needs.
The proposals consider whether limiting an employee’s application for flexible working to one per year continues to represent the best balance between individual and business needs.
The consultation also looks at cutting the current three-month period an employer has to consider any request.
If an employer cannot accommodate a request, as can be the case, they would need to think about what alternatives they could offer.
Matthew Fell, Chief Policy Director at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said:
‘Businesses have learnt a huge amount about the pros and cons of flexible working during the pandemic, with many firms expecting to receive more formal and informal requests in the future. Employers support giving employees the right to request flexible working from day one in the job.
‘Companies want to work with the government to ensure that they can say ‘no’ when they have properly considered requests but for good reason can’t accept them.’
The government’s scheme that enables small businesses to recoup statutory sick pay costs caused by COVID-19 closed at the end of September.
Legislation ending the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS) was laid before parliament on 9 September.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, employers were obliged to pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to eligible employees unable to work because of sickness. It is paid at a flat rate of £96.35 (at the current rate) for up to 28 weeks. The full cost of SSP is met by the employer.
To support employers during the pandemic, the government legislated to allow certain small and medium size employers to reclaim some, or all, of their SSP costs from HMRC via the SSPRS.
Under the new regulations, employers will not be able to reclaim SSP from 30 September 2021 and any claims relating to periods prior to that date must have been filed by 31 December 2021.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) said:
‘It would appear that the suspension of the requirement to wait for three days before SSP is paid has not yet been repealed. The three-day rule was suspended temporarily during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis to encourage people to stay at home as soon as they felt ill.’
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.
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.’
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.’
The national roll-out of the new £100 spending limit for contactless card payments will begin from 15 October 2021, banking trade body UK Finance has confirmed.
The decision to raise the contactless limit from £45 to £100 was made by HM Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) following a public consultation and discussions with both the retail and banking sectors. It follows on from the successful increase in the limit from £30 to £45 in April 2020.
From 15 October 2021, consumers will start to see retailers accepting contactless payments up to the new £100 limit, which will give customers more flexibility when shopping in store.
David Postings, Chief Executive of UK Finance, said:
‘Contactless payment has proved very popular with consumers and an increasing number of transactions are being made using contactless technology.
‘The increase in the limit to £100 will allow people to pay for higher value transactions like their weekly shop or filling up their car with fuel. The payments industry has worked hard to put in place the infrastructure to enable retailers to update their payments systems so they can start to offer their customers this new higher limit.’
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.
HMRC has confirmed that almost 800,000 employees who have been working from home during the pandemic have already claimed tax relief on household related costs.
The saving is worth up to £125 per year for each employee, and eligible workers can claim the full year’s entitlement if they have been told to work from home by their employer, even if it has been for just one day during the tax year.
Employees who have either returned to working in an office since early April or are preparing for their return can still claim the working from home tax relief and benefit from the full year’s relief for 2021/22.
Employees can apply directly themselves and receive the full tax relief that is due. Once their application has been approved, their tax code will be automatically adjusted for the 2021/22 tax year, and they will receive the tax relief directly through their salary.
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said:
‘More people are getting back to office working now, but it’s not too late to apply for tax relief on household expenses if they’ve been working from home during the pandemic.’
Check eligibility and apply online at www.gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees/working-at-home.
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 Band % Rates
£0 – £250,000 0
£250,001 – £925,000 5
£925,001 – £1,500,000 10
£1,500,001 and over 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 Band % Rate
Up to £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
Over £1,500,000 12
There are no changes to the rates and bands for Land and Property Transaction Tax which apply in Scotland.
The government has confirmed that employers of all sizes in England can now apply for £3,000 in extra funding to help them take on new apprentices.
The boost to the apprenticeship incentive scheme was confirmed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Budget in March.
The claims portal opened on 1 June and businesses can apply for £3,000 for each new apprentice hired as a new employee from 1 April until 30 September.
The cash incentive is designed to help more employers invest in the skilled workforce they need for the future as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs.
The government says the scheme builds on action already underway to protect, support and create more jobs while bringing the UK’s skills and education system closer to the employer market.
The Chancellor commented:
‘Young people have been hit especially hard by the crisis – which is why our Plan for Jobs, launched last year, is focused on helping them get the skills they need to get the jobs they want.
‘By boosting the cash incentives for our apprenticeship scheme we’re improving opportunities for young people to stay in and find work – this could not be more important in our economy’s recovery.’
Find out more and apply at www.gov.uk/guidance/incentive-payments-for-hiring-a-new-apprentice.
The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) begins winding down from 1 July.
The latest data from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows that at the end of April 3.4 million jobs were still on furlough so the change to the furlough scheme will affect thousands of employers across the country.
Since last March, the government has paid 80% of the salaries of employees (up to a maximum government contribution of £2,500 per month) – with the employers only having to pay employer National Insurance and pension contributions.
From 1 July the government will only pay 70% of the furloughed employee’s salary, so the employer has to pay 10% of the salary themselves. In August and September, employers will have to pay 20%, with the government picking up 60%. Furloughed employees will continue to receive 80% of their wages including the employer contribution.
However, according to the IFS, the bill for employers keeping a member of staff on the scheme will rise significantly, putting jobs at risk. For a furloughed employee previously earning £20,000 per year, the cost to an employer of keeping them will rise from £155 per month in June to £322 in July, and £489 per month in August and September, after which the scheme is due to end.
Further details of changes to the CJRS can be found at GOV.UK CJRS.
The forms P11D which report details of benefits and some expenses provided to employees and directors for the year ended 5 April 2021, are due for submission to HMRC by 6 July 2021. The process of gathering the necessary information and completing the forms can take some time, so it is important that this process is not left to the last minute.
Employees pay tax on benefits provided as shown on the P11D, generally via a PAYE coding notice adjustment or through the self assessment system. Some employers ‘payroll’ benefits and in this case the benefits do not need to be reported on forms P11D but employers should advise employees of the amount of benefits payrolled.
In addition, regardless of whether the benefits are being reported via P11D or payrolled the employer has to pay Class 1A National Insurance Contributions at 13.8% on the provision of most benefits. The calculation of this liability is detailed on the P11D(b) form. The deadline for payment of the Class 1A NIC is 19th July 2021 (or 22nd for cleared electronic payment).
If you would like any help with the completion of the forms or the calculation of the associated Class 1A NIC please get in touch.
The UK government has confirmed that its plastic packaging tax (PPT) will come into force on 1 April 2022.
The PPT will be charged at a rate of £200 per metric ton of chargeable plastic packaging components of a single specification.
It will apply to plastic packaging components manufactured in or imported into the UK.
Plastics covered by the tax include bioplastics, including biodegradable, compostable and oxo-degradable plastics.
The tax will not be chargeable on plastic packaging which has 30% or more recycled plastic content, or where the packaging is made of multiple materials of which plastic is not proportionately the heaviest when measured by weight.
This includes importers of packaging which already contain goods, such as plastic bottles filled with drinks and where the imported packaging already contains other goods as the tax only applies to the plastic packaging itself.
The introduction of the plastic packaging tax is designed to encourage the use of recycled rather than new plastic within plastic packaging and will in turn stimulate increased levels of recycling and collection of plastic waste, diverting it away from landfill or incineration.
HMRC has confirmed that the fifth Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant covering the period May 2021 to September 2021 will open to claims from late July.
To be eligible for the grant, an individual must be self-employed or a member of a partnership. They must have traded in the tax year 2019/20 and submitted their tax return on or before 2 March 2021, and also have traded in the tax year 2020/21. Claimants must either be currently trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus or have been trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus.
The amount of the fifth grant will be determined by how much an individual’s turnover has been reduced in the year April 2020 to April 2021.
HMRC will provide more information and support by the end of June 2021 to help individuals work out how their turnover was affected.
The online claims service for the fifth SEISS grant will be open from late July 2021. In mid-July HMRC will contact individuals who are eligible based on their tax returns to give them a date from which they can make their claim.
The fourth Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant is now live and HMRC has set out the penalties for abuse of the scheme.
An overclaimed SEISS grant includes any amount of grant which the self-employed individual was not entitled to receive or was more than the amount HMRC said the applicant was entitled to when the claim was made.
Overpayments must be notified to HMRC within 90 days of receipt of an SEISS grant.
When deciding the amount of any penalty, HMRC will take account whether the taxpayer knew they were entitled to the SEISS grant when they received it and when it became repayable or chargeable to tax because the individual’s circumstances changed.
The HMRC guidance states: ‘If you knew you were not entitled to your grant and did not tell us in the notification period, the law treats your failure as deliberate and concealed. This means we can charge a penalty of up to 100% on the amount of the SEISS grant that you were not entitled to receive or keep.
‘If you did not know you were not entitled to your grant when you received it, we will only charge you a penalty if you have not repaid the grant by 31 January 2022.’
If you would like further advice or require a compliance review on your eligibility, please contact us.
Employees who are working from home will need to make new claims for tax relief for the 2021/22 tax year, HMRC has stated.
From 6 April 2020, employers have been able to pay employees up to £6 a week tax-free to cover additional costs if they have had to work from home.
Employees who have not received the working from home expenses payment direct from their employer can apply to receive the tax relief from HMRC.
HMRC has also confirmed that the £6 per week payment is available in full, even if an employee splits their time between home and the office.
The allowance is to cover tax-deductible additional costs that employees who are required to work from home have incurred, such as heating and lighting the workroom, and business telephone calls.
Last year an online portal was launched that allows employees to claim tax relief for working at home. The portal was set up to process tax relief on additional expenses for employed workers who have been told to work from home by their employer during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
On 19 April, a government-backed mortgage scheme to help people with 5% deposits get on to the housing ladder was made available to lenders.
First announced at the 2021 Budget, the scheme will help first-time buyers or current homeowners secure a mortgage with just a 5% deposit to buy a house worth up to £600,000. The government says this will provide ‘an affordable route to homeownership for aspiring homeowners’.
The government will offer lenders the guarantee they need to provide mortgages that cover the other 95%, subject to the usual affordability checks.
The scheme is now available from lenders on high streets across the country, with Lloyds, Santander, Barclays, HSBC and NatWest having launched mortgages under the scheme and Virgin Money following shortly.
Miguel Sard, Managing Director of Home Buying and Ownership at NatWest, said:
‘We welcome the government’s new mortgage guarantee scheme to give further support to those with smaller deposits. For those customers, particularly younger or first-time buyers, saving up for a big deposit can often be difficult, and we know people in these groups are some of the hardest hit by the effects of the pandemic.
‘A government-backed scheme will help segments of the market for whom homeownership has felt far out of reach in recent months.’
On 6 April, the Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) was introduced to replace the government’s coronavirus lending schemes.
The RLS provides financial support to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme gives lenders a guarantee of 80% on eligible loans between £25,000 and £10 million to give them confidence in continuing to provide finance to UK businesses.
The RLS is open to all businesses, including those who have already received support under the previous COVID-19 guaranteed loan schemes, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme although the amount they have borrowed under an existing scheme may in certain circumstances limit the amount they may borrow under RLS.
The RLS is initially available through a number of lenders accredited by the British Business Bank.