Tax planning options for 2020-21

The 6th April marks the beginning of a new tax, and for the coming year, unprecedented challenges. As with most things in life, problems are a necessary precursor to finding solutions. We have listed below a few reminders of the issues you may want to consider as worthy of including in your 2020-21 tax planning to-do list.

 

We are all likely to experience a drop in earnings this year. The scale of the reduction will vary, but very few will be able to maintain their business profits or personal income at pre-COVID-19 levels. Apart from the obvious reduction in taxes paid due to the reduction, what else should we consider? We have listed below just two options that you may like to consider.

 

1.If you are Self-employed

Most self-assessment tax falling due for payment in 2020 will include payments on account for 2019-20. HMRC has indicated that it will allow you to defer the 31 July 2020 payment until 31 January 2021. However, if you can demonstrate that your actual profits for 2019-20 were lower than those for 2018-19, you can formally apply to reduce your payments on account.

Action note: to do this prepare your accounts taxed in 2019-20 (usually the year ending 31 March or 5th April 2020) as soon as you can. We can then make the necessary postponement election for you based on the results – if they show a drop in profits.

A BONUS – if you prepare accounts quickly, you can also use the figures to support any application for bank funding to see you through the COVID-19 disruption.

 

2. Reduce benefit-in-kind charges

If your business is closed due to COVID-19, it is likely that directors and employees may not have been using their company cars since the lock-down started to bite in the last two months. Accordingly, if you can confirm that company cars were not made available to directors and employees in this time, and record this on your P11D return for 2019-20, then taxable benefits for 2019-20 can be reduced.

As directors and employees will have estimated benefit in kind amounts adjusted for in their tax codes for 2019-20, based on information for 2018-19, any resulting reduction could potentially create refunds of tax for 2019-20.

Action note: let us have the details of car usage asap. We can then file P11D’s sooner rather than later and apply for any overpayments in your tax paid for 2019-20.

Our advice?

When profits and income reduce this should encourage us to prepare accounts and tax returns quickly in order to challenge any overpayments of tax and NIC in previous years.

And as a bonus, the information produced will support applications to banks and other parties for financial support during this difficult time.

Please get in touch as soon as you can if you would like us to fast-track your accounts and tax return for 2019-20 and to quantify, and recover, any taxes you may have overpaid.

How to apply for a Business Interruption Loan

The British Business Bank has updated its guidance on how to apply for the recently changed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). A summary follows;

Who can you apply to?

Most of the UK High Street banks can provide a CBILS loan facility. As your present bankers already know you and your business, for most businesses, making an application to your existing bank would seem to be appropriate.

Apply online

Due to the present disruption – phone lines are extremely busy and it’s unlikely you will be able to visit a branch – make your application online.

What about personal guarantees?

Under the scheme, lenders will not take personal guarantees if your loan application is below £250,000.

For facilities above £250,000, personal guarantees may still be required, at a lender’s discretion, but:

 

  • Guarantees will not include your home – they will exclude any property that is considered to be the residence that qualifies for capital gains tax Principal Private Residence Relief, and
  • Recoveries under these guarantees are capped at a maximum of 20% of the outstanding balance of the CBILS facility after the proceeds of business assets have been applied.

Who can apply?

To apply, your business must:

  • Be UK-based in its business activity
  • Have an annual turnover of no more than £45 million
  • Have a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, were it not for the current pandemic
  • Self-certify that it has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

 

The third point in this list is critical.

What your bank will need from you

Apart from completing the online application, lenders will need:

  1. The amount you want to borrow.
  2. Why you need the loan, what the money is to be used for.
  3. The repayment period, what term are you requesting, and
  4. Can you afford the repayments?

Supporting documents that may be required

You will need to provide certain evidence to show that you can afford to repay the loan. This is likely to include:

  • Management accounts
  • Cash flow forecast
  • Business plan
  • Historic accounts
  • Details of assets

The above requirements will vary from lender to lender. If you do not have everything listed here, a CBILS loan could still be an option to provide finance to support your business.

Note: For many customers approaching their existing lenders for a smaller facility, the process may be automated and therefore may not require the same level of documentation.

We can help

If you are considering a loan we can help you gather together the forecasts and other documentation you will need. We can also help you decide on the level of support you will need and how long you will need to repay the loan.

Dividends excluded from job support scheme calculations

When first announced as a news story, published by government 26 March 2020, information regarding the support scheme for the self-employed included a telling paragraph. It said:

Those who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company are not covered by the scheme [the self-employed scheme] but will be covered for their salary by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they are operating PAYE schemes.

Clearly, this confirms that claims under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be based on previously submitted payroll returns that include director’s salaries (but not dividends).

Directors that have taken the lion’s share of their income in the form of dividends – and benefitted from significant NIC reductions for a number of years – will therefore be restricted in the amount of relief they can claim. Potentially, they will only be able to recoup up to 80% of their monthly salary – capped at £2,500 a month.

To make a claim, directors will need to furlough themselves. This is the new shorthand for laying yourself off. To qualify, you will also have to play no further active role in the business. For most directors this is a non-starter as directors, at the very least, have a legal responsibility to monitor and file ongoing returns to HMRC and Companies House, keep accounts up-to-date and manage numerous ongoing matters for their business.

What are the choices for directors?

If your company is unable to trade – perhaps one of the leisure, entertainment or other “closed down” service industries – you may be able to organise moth-balling activity in such a way that you can assert you are furloughed and collect 80% of your reported salary as a grant, up to the £2,500 limit.

If this does not meet your basic cash requirements there are other personal claims you can consider: Universal Credits or other relevant benefits.

If you want to consider ongoing trading, possibly at a reduced level, planning will be key. Directors will need to take care that they do not borrow money to support temporary losses if this results in insolvency. Insolvency in this respect means running out of retained profits and issued share capital.

Whatever your decision on these choices, please contact us, as planning and monitoring of your company finances will be paramount. The longer this disruption continues, the greater the strain and risk for small businesses will become.

Tax Diary April/May 2020

1 April 2020 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 30 June 2019.

19 April 2020 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 April 2020. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 April 2020).

19 April 2020 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 April 2020.

19 April 2020 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 April 2020 is payable by today.

30 April 2020 – 2018-19 tax returns filed after this date will be subject to an additional £10 per day late filing penalty.

`1 May 2020 – Due date for Corporation Tax due for the year ended 30 July 2019.

19 May 2020 – PAYE and NIC deductions due for month ended 5 May 2020. (If you pay your tax electronically the due date is 22 May 2020).

19 May 2020 – Filing deadline for the CIS300 monthly return for the month ended 5 May 2020.

19 May 2020 – CIS tax deducted for the month ended 5 May 2020 is payable by today.

31 May 2020 – Ensure all employees have been given their P60s for the 2019-20 tax year.

 

Changes to Entrepreneurs Relief

Prior to 11 March 2020, business owners could sell multiple, qualifying businesses during their lifetime, and as long as the total chargeable gains did not exceed £10m, a reduced rate of Capital Gains Tax of just 10% would apply.

Since budget day, 11 March 2020, this lifetime allowance has been reduced to £1m.

Business owners who are contemplating a sale of their business after the March date may need to rethink their disposal strategies as this change could potentially double the amount of CGT payable on their sale.

Please contact us for more information on this topic.

Protecting cash flow – tax payments

It is unlikely that our businesses will be unaffected by the inevitable slow-down in economic activity as the Coronavirus outbreak starts to bite.

Maintaining a strict control over your personal and business cash-flow is going to be a key decider in surviving this process.

A major expenditure item is taxation whether that be VAT, PAYE/NIC, self-assessed liabilities or Corporation Tax.

We suggest that all businesses rework their cash-flow forecasts based on the revised trading outlook post COVID-19. Be realistic and tend towards less optimistic scenarios. If the outcome requires support from your bank you may be eligible for a government backed Business Interruption Loan – the government will guarantee 80% of the loan – make your application now based on your revised cash-flow.

And finally, all businesses and self-employed people 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. You can contact HMRC’s new dedicated COVID-19 helpline for advice and support. To ensure ongoing support, HMRC has made a further 2,000 experienced call handlers available to support firms and individuals when needed. For Time to Pay support if you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.

And please call us if you need help reworking your cash-flow forecasts, negotiating loans with your bank or presenting tax payment deferment schemes to HMRC.

Business rates changes

In England

The government will increase the Business Rates retail discount to 100% for one year, expand it to the leisure and hospitality sectors and increase the rates discount for qualifying pubs to £5,000. Taken together with existing small business rate relief (which provides full relief for businesses using a single property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less), an estimated 900,000 properties, or 45% of all properties in England, will receive 100% business rates relief in 2020-21:

  • Businesses that received the retail discount in 2019-20 will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.
  • Those businesses eligible for the newly expanded retail discount and/or the new pubs discount may need to apply to their local authority to receive the discount.
  • Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority.

The government is also providing an additional £2.2 billion funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no Business Rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of £3,000 to around 700,000 business currently eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs. For a property with a rateable value of £12,000, this is one quarter of their rateable value, or comparable to 3 months of rent.

Regional variations in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland may need to be considered. To find out what your position will be contact your local rating authority or council.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Employers have been rightly worried about the cost of funding SSP for employees that are self-isolating or suffering from the COVID-19 virus. Especially as SSP is now due on day one of absences.

The Chancellor has now confirmed that he will create a means for employers to recover any SSP paid for the first 14 days of sick leave.

Additionally, employees who are advised to self-isolate for COVID-19 will soon be able to obtain an alternative to the fit note to cover this by contacting NHS 111, rather than visiting a doctor. This can be used by employees where their employers require evidence.

Those who are not eligible for SSP, for example the self-employed or people earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week (increasing to £120 from 6 April 2020), can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance.

Self-Employed Income Support Scheme

The long-awaited statement from the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak regarding COVID-19 support for the self-employed has been announced. The Chancellor said that the scheme will benefit some 95% of people whose main income source is derived from self-employment.

A list of the scheme features as announced, and published, are as follows:

  • Those that qualify will receive a cash grant from HMRC based on 80% of profits, up to £2,500 per month,
  • The initial grant will be for the three months, from 1 March through to the end of May 2020, but could be extended for a longer period.

To be eligible, the following conditions will be taken into account:

  • Applicants must be self-employed or a member of a trading partnership,
  • Have lost trading profits due to COVID-19,
  • Have filed a tax return for 2018-19. Late filers will have four weeks from 26 March 2020 to do so,
  • Have traded in 2019-20; be currently trading at the point of application (or would be except for COVID-19) and intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21,
  • Have trading profits of less than £50,000 and more than half of total income from self-employment. This can be with reference to at least one of the following conditions:
    • Your trading profits and total income in 2018-19,
    • Your average trading profits and total income across up to the three years between 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19.

There is no need to apply to HMRC as they will contact you if you are eligible. HMRC will use existing data to make this judgement. The initial three-month grant will be paid directly to a nominated bank account in a single lump sum. The grants are expected to be paid out at the beginning of June. The reason for this delay is likely down to three main factors: the 4 weeks additional filing time for late filers, the requirement to set up a complex new system at the same time as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and to reduce the risk of fraud.

It is assumed that those self-employed who have experienced a significant drop in income due to COVID-19 disruption will need to apply for Universal Credits or Business Continuity Loans to tide them over until June. This will be a challenging time for those affected as the demand for help will place significant challenges on the institutions charged with providing this support.

CORONAVIRUS JOB RETENTION SCHEME (CJRS) – update for director shareholders

There has been uncertainty as to the position of director/shareholders claiming under the CJRS as their income is usually taken from their company as a combination of a low salary and dividends. In the news story published following the Chancellor’s statement on 26 March (regarding the Self-employed scheme) is a telling paragraph. It says:

Those who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company are not covered by the scheme (the Self-employed Scheme) but will be covered for their salary by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they are operating PAYE schemes.

This infers that directors will only be eligible for the CJRS based on their salary alone, and only if there is a proven PAYE record.

Further details of the CJRS are due to be published imminently and will be added to our newsfeed as soon as they are available.

Support with paying your taxes

Further support to businesses and the self-employed, to delay the payment of various taxes was announced last week. They include:

VAT

Any VAT that falls due for payment in the period from 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 can be deferred until the end of the 2020-21 tax year.

This is not a cancellation of any liability that falls due in this period, merely a deferral. Businesses will need to ensure that they have funds to settle any arrears on or before the end of March 2021 (5 April 2021).

Any refunds due from HMRC will be paid as usual.

 

Second payment on account due 31 July 2020

It has been confirmed that self-employed persons’ self-assessment, second payment on account for 2019-20, due 31 July 2020, can be deferred until 31 January 2021.

Tax payers should be aware that as with the VAT offer, this is a deferral, not a cancellation of tax due. Those who take advantage will need to pay their second payment on account and any balancing payment for 2019-20 and any first payment on account – if any is due – for 2020-21.

Please call if you need to clarify which VAT payments can be deferred and the likely longer term cash flow effects if you defer the self-assessment payment on account in July.

In both cases there is no need to apply to HMRC to defer payments.