Accounting and Taxation advice in Hexham, Northumberland

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Thoughts for the week commencing 27th April

Thoughts for the day 27th April

Another 2 weeks of uncertainty to go at least…. and with that in mind I found the thoughts of this contemporary of mine very interesting: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3csy999


Good news!  Our first client has received their furlough claim into their bank account today, five working days since the claim was made.  How are you getting on with your furlough applications? I’d be most interested to know.


Do bear in mind that HMRC will check claims made through the scheme and will act to protect public money against anyone who makes a dishonest claim. And HMRC ask that employers continue to keep furloughed employees informed and ask them not to contact HMRC directly – HMRC will not be able to provide them with any information.

Some non-Covid19 news - the official rate of interest is going down from 2.50% to 2.25% in the 2020/21 tax year.
Statutory concession with regard to employer provided living accommodation specifies under what circumstances an employee is allowed to do so with no tax impact. HMRC are to remove the statutory concession from April 2021.


Tax payer investigations are on hold for now which is excellent news.
Also excellent is the temporary easement of rules on overseas workers.

The Institute are encouraging the Government to look at extending the guarantee on Coronavirus business loans to 100%.

The Institute are also encouraging the Government to look at paying some direct grants to small businesses who are either too big or in the wrong sector for entitlement to local authority grants.

Any employers with PAYE? There are some changes to benefits and tax credits as a result of the COVID19 pandemic, for example: 

  • The basic element of Working Tax Credit has been increased by £1,045 to £3,040 from 6 April 2020 until 5 April 2021 and the amount a claimant or household will benefit from depends on their circumstances.
  • Child benefit, other tax credits rates and thresholds, and Guardian Allowance increase by 1.7% from 6 April 2020.  This is automatic and no action needs to be taken to receive the increased payments.

 

If you have a new employee who does not have a P45, then HMRC’s Starter Checklist should be completed to ensure the new employee are given the correct tax code.  A new Starter Checklist was issued in April 2020, and a link to it can be found as follows: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/paye-starter-checklist


Remember to claim your employment allowance through your Employment Payment Summary (EPS).  Unlike previous years, your claim will not automatically renew, and you need to confirm that you are still eligible.  This is because Employment Allowance is now being operated as a de-minimus State aid.  Details on eligibility can be found on the following HMRC link: https://www.gov.uk/claim-employment-allowance/eligibility


Finally, a further note on scams, this time from HMRC: Stay vigilant about scams, which may mimic government messages such as 'Stay at home' and 'Stay home, stay safe', as a way of appearing authentic and unthreatening. Don’t give out private information or reply to text messages, and don’t download attachments or click on links in texts or emails you weren’t expecting. You can forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599.

Keep well and kind regards,
Tricia

 

Thoughts for the day 28th April

Parts of the UK held a minute’s silence at 11am today in tribute to frontline workers who have died in the fight against coronavirus. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who returned to work this week after his own battle with coronavirus, previously heaped praise on NHS staff who treated him in hospital, stating that he ‘owed them’ his life. We honoured the silence in our offices today.

Hurrah - Rishi Sunak has listened to the Institute's voice, amongst others, with a new small business loan that is going to be VERY SIMPLE to get. It’s on offer from next Monday - I do hope it works this time and that it's not too late! See more details here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/small-businesses-boosted-by-bounce-back-loans

Oil prices continue to fall so if you’re not on a mains supply do ensure you stock up on gas and oil.

Outside of the normal NHS employment protection is some very good news on life assurance for NHS workers and carers - families of frontline health and social care workers will receive a £60,000 lump sum payment upon their death. Well done Rishi!

Yet more assistance for those with rental properties - high street shops and other companies under strain will be protected from aggressive rent collection and asked to pay what they can during the coronavirus pandemic, with temporary new measures introduced by the government. These include temporarily voiding statutory demands and winding up petitions issued to commercial tenants, and changes to the use of commercial rent arrears recovery (CRAR) facilities.

More furlough payments are filtering through to our clients. I think the HMRC have been very impressive here. They said it would happen and it has. Can we take it as a precedent?

Lifting our eyes from the pandemic, The House of Lords Economic Affairs Finance Bill Sub-Committee’s report, ‘Off-payroll working: treating people fairly’, calls on government to use a delay until next year of extending the off-payroll rules to the private sector “to completely rethink this legislation”. In a statement, the committee says that IR35 – the government’s framework to tackle tax avoidance by those in ‘disguised employment’ – “has not worked properly throughout its 20-year history”.  As someone who has had to advise clients trying to find a way to operate under these rules for the over 20 years they have been with us, I very much welcome the Lords’ findings!

And finally for today - abatement rules will be temporarily lifted for returning NHS staff drafted in to help directly with the coronavirus outbreak so that their pension payments will not be affected.

Thanks for reading!
Keep well
Tricia

 

Thoughts for the day 29th April

Latest news on Bounce back loans is that they may NOT be available from Monday. The bankers are saying that applications will need to be checked that they are not fraudulent, and they fear it will require changes to the Consumer Credit Act. My view is that if your bank knows who you are and that you’re in business why should there be a fraud issue? The delay is very disappointing. Businesses need these NOW.



Furlough updates:

I must repeat my praise for HMRC here as their processing of furlough claims continues to be one of the fastest and most effective pieces of help that have been made available to businesses since the pandemic began, along with the small business and tourism related grants.


If you have 100 employees or fewer on furlough, you need to key in details for each individual application. This will be laborious in many cases. HMRC are looking at ways to assist the process.


Furlough applications can currently be made for paydays until the end of June 2020 with the portal remaining open after that time for retrospective claims (no closing date announced as yet). Claims also appear to be allowed to be made more frequently than the previous advised every three weeks, which is very good news.


There is no opportunity to amend a furlough claim once it is submitted. My advice would be that you alter your next claim accordingly so that together they are correct.


If you’re about to go on maternity leave, your SMP will be calculated on your normal wage and not the amount you have been receiving whilst on furlough. This is a change to earlier guidance. Great news for those affected.

 


There is currently no mechanism in place to claim enhanced SSP despite it being announced early on in the pandemic. HMRC have put their efforts into the very effective furlough portal so we will have to bear with them on SSP for a while longer.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) – be aware that any contact made with you regarding this between now and the middle of May will be a scam. Mid-May is the earliest point at which the Government will be contacting potential claimants.  BEWARE!

Keep safe and clued up.
Tricia

 

Thoughts for the day 30th April

Firstly, I would like to congratulate Boris and Carrie on the birth of their son. This is the third baby to be born to a prime minister in my lifetime, after Leo Blair (2000) and Florence Cameron (2010) - one a decade. Before them, the last babies born at Number 10 were Lord John Russell’s sons George and Francis in 1848 and 1849 respectively - that was even before my Great Grandmother was born!

Happy 100th Birthday to, the newly appointed, ‘Colonel’ Tom Moore. Wouldn’t it have been neat if Boris’ baby had waited until today to be born? That would have been very good company to be in!

Obviously with other things to attend to, we have yet to see what Boris will announce in the coming days now that he has returned to office. Watch this space.

ICAEW are calling for a delay in the changes to capital gains relief on private residences. I am pleased this has been declared as I reported it too early on my initial ‘Thoughts’ back on Wednesday 15th April!

I mentioned yesterday about an absence of information about enhanced SSP. I can confirm that it will be state aided but it will affect a business’ ability to claim other support. You will need to look carefully at this.

Good news still regarding the CJRS portal with money flowing through. A note of caution – there is no way to return to your application once you’ve submitted it, so do please make a note of your reference number when prompted, and keep it safe. My advice would to be to write it down on a piece of paper, but that shows my age!

HMRC are asking companies to delay making their Corporation Tax returns which are due on or after 1st April as they haven’t updated their systems yet. Whilst we might have been expecting the rate of CT to drop to 17%, it remains at 19% as per the budget announcement on 11th March.

So, some lovely news and some work in progress happening today.
Regards, Tricia

 

Thoughts for the day 1st May

 It was good to have Boris back with Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty at the Government’s daily press conference. Boris’s last conference was I think 25th March - which feels like an age ago!  It was not unexpected that revelations regarding where we go next are clearly not going to be declared until next week.
The addition of questions from the public and from local newspapers is a very positive inclusion in the broadcast. It was very good to hear from a local journalist from Stoke-on-Trent last night sticking up for his community as our local journalists do tend to.
 
After my mixed messages regarding the Bounce Back Loan scheme – Barclays Bank have confirmed they WILL launch theirs from Monday 4th May after all. Check with your bank for timescales.
 
I’ll end the week with a little light relief on this Labour Day - no parades this year!

A long time ago I watched a television programme called ‘Making Slough Happy’ - Slough apparently being the least happy place in the country. They put this down to John Betjeman – you will remember "Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough! It isn't fit for humans now”. The Psychologist presenter of the programme Dr Richard Stevens came up with a list of 10 things we/Slough should do to be happy:
•           Watch less television
•           Take more exercise
•           Plant something
•           Talk to your partner
•           Smile/laugh
•           Phone a friend
•           Do something for someone else
•           Spoil yourself
•           Count your blessings
•           Seize the day

To which my children added on a personal note:
•           Take a deep breath
•          ‘Faugh’ over the children
•           Cook
Perhaps we could all come up with our 10 ways of ‘being happy’ during this awful lockdown?
 
Have a good weekend
Tricia

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