Holiday update

As lockdown is being eased and opportunity to holiday opens, we felt it might be useful to set out bank holiday dates for the UK regions for the rest of this year.

England and Wales – 2021

Date Day Holiday
31 May Monday Spring bank holiday
30 August Monday Summer bank holiday
27 December Monday Christmas Day (substitute day)
28 December Tuesday Boxing Day (substitute day)

Scotland – 2021

 

Date Day Holiday
31 May Monday Spring bank holiday
2 August Monday Summer bank holiday
30 November Tuesday St Andrew’s Day
27 December Monday Christmas Day (substitute day)
28 December Tuesday Boxing Day (substitute day)

Northern Ireland – 2021

 

Date Day Holiday
31 May Monday Spring bank holiday
12 July Monday Battle of the Boyne (Orangemen’s Day)
30 August Monday Summer bank holiday
27 December Monday Christmas Day (substitute day)
28 December Tuesday  Boxing Day (substitute day)

Let us hope control of COVID continues to progress in a positive direction so we can all enjoy some well-earned time away with our families and friends in what remains of 2021.

Taxing your car

The instructions to tax your car on the GOV.UK website is reproduced below:

To tax your car, motorcycle or other vehicle you will need to use a reference number from:

  • a recent reminder (V11) or ‘last chance’ warning letter from DVLA
  • your vehicle logbook (V5C) – it must be in your name
  • the green ‘new keeper’ slip from a logbook if you have just bought it

If you do not have any of these documents, you will need to apply for a new logbook.

You must tax your vehicle even if you do not have to pay anything, for example if you are exempt because you are disabled. This last point is important as exempt vehicles now include electric vehicles. 

A late licensing penalty (LLP) letter is issued automatically. LLP is set at £80 reduced to £40 if paid within 33 days.

If the penalty is not paid, the case will be referred to a debt collection agency.

If you pay by Direct Debit and fail to make the payment, DVLA may stop you from using this payment method in the future.

COVID support grants that are taxable

We would like to remind readers that existing legislation is in place to ensure that COVID support grants are treated as taxable income in the same way as other taxable receipts. The grants are treated as income where the business is within the scope of either Income Tax or Corporation Tax.

This treatment extends to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, any coronavirus business support grant scheme and any other support scheme payments.

HMRC’s guidance is clear that whether any tax is paid will depend on the business profits of the grant recipient (taking into consideration the grant and other business income and expenditure under normal tax rules), any other taxable income and personal and other allowances to which they are entitled.

The taxing of the COVID support payments is based on the fact that these payments are designed to substitute various income streams for businesses and individuals affected by the pandemic and hence should follow the same tax treatment.

HMRC also has the power to recover payments and charge penalties where claimants have made support grant claims to which they were not entitled.

Recovery Loan Scheme

The new Recovery Loan Scheme was launched on 6 April 2021. The new scheme allows businesses of any size to access loans and other kinds of finance between £25,000 and £10 million. The scheme will remain open until 31 December 2021 (subject to review).

The scheme is intended to provide further support to businesses to help them recover and grow following the disruption of the pandemic and the end of the transition period. The new scheme can be used as an additional loan on top of previous support received from other schemes such as the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Under the scheme, the government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on eligible loans provided to UK businesses. The scheme will be open to all businesses, including those who have already received support under the existing COVID-19 guaranteed loan schemes.

The following finance options are available:

  • Term loans and overdrafts are available between £25,001 and £10 million per business.
  • Invoice finance and asset finance are available between £1,000 and £10 million per business.

Finance terms are for up to six years for term loans and asset finance facilities. For overdrafts and invoice finance facilities, terms will be up to three years. No personal guarantees will be taken on facilities up to £250,000, and a borrower’s principal private residence cannot be taken as security. 26 lenders have already been accredited for the scheme and more are expected shortly.

Treasury directive re fourth SEISS grant

HM Treasury has published a further Treasury Direction made under the Coronavirus Act 2020, ss. 71 and 76, which modifies and extends the effect of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). The new Direction mainly deals with the expansion of the SEISS from 1 February 2021 to 30 April 2021, officially referred to as the SEISS Grant Extension 4 (SEISS 4). The online portal for making a claim will open in late April and HMRC is notifying taxpayers of the earliest date they can apply on a staggered basis. The final date for making a claim for the SEISS 4 will be 1 June 2021. 

The self-employed will receive 80% of average trading profits for February, March and April 2021. This will mean a maximum grant for the three months of £7,500 made available to those who meet the eligibility requirements. The SEISS 4 grant is available to the newly self-employed who filed a 2019-20 tax return by midnight, 2 March 2021. 

To be eligible for an SEISS 4 payment, self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, must meet the following criteria:

(a) carry on a trade the business of which has been adversely affected by reason of circumstances arising as a result of coronavirus or coronavirus disease,
(b) have delivered a tax return for a relevant tax year on or before 2 March 2021,
(c) have carried on a trade in the tax years 2019-20 and 2020-21,
(d) intend to continue to carry on a trade in the tax year 2021-22,
(e) if that person is a non-UK resident or has made a claim under section 809B of ITA 2007 (claim for remittance basis to apply), certify that the person’s trading profits are equal to or more than the person’s relevant income for any relevant tax year or years,
(f) be an individual, and
(g) meet the stated profits condition.

A fifth and final grant covering the period from 1 May – 30 September 2021 will see those whose turnover has fallen by 30% or more continuing to receive the full 80% grant whilst those whose turnover has fallen by less than 30% will receive a 30% grant.

A reminder that not all costs are costs…

Costs are defined as something that has to be paid or spent to acquire something. Costs include the acquisition of:

  • An object, say material required to convert into saleable goods.
  • A service, for example, sub-contact labour or 
  • A right, the rates you pay to occupy business premises. 

In your accounts, these costs would appear as expenses or cost of sales in your profit and loss account. All of these costs have something in common, their usefulness tends to be restricted to the time at which they were purchased.

But what about costs – say the purchase of computer – that should have a working life of say five years? This type of expenditure will not appear as a deduction from your profits as an expense, instead, it will appear as a fixed asset on your balance sheet and will be written off – over five years in the case of our computer – by depreciation.

We need a new word to describe this type of expenditure and the one we use is “investment”.

The distinction between a cost and an investment is significant. Generally speaking, a cost has value for a limited time period whereas an investment has the ability to impact current and future trading prospects.

As we emerge from lockdown, do not underestimate the recovery value of investment for your business. And government has offered company investors a timely tax incentive to invest.

In his recent budget, Rishi Sunak announced that qualifying investment in equipment would attract a 130% deduction for tax purposes (applies to companies from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2023). It’s worth considering this distinction. Costs will sustain your current trading performance, but investment expenditure will have the potential to create new opportunities in future years.

Vaccine for your business

There is a poignant similarity between the effects of COVID on us personally and our businesses.

Thankfully, the possible dire consequences of catching the Coronavirus bug are being countered by a variety of vaccines. Fingers crossed that these will ease the pressure on the NHS and minimise the distress that this dreadful virus has inflicted on us since it reared its head over a year ago.

But what about our businesses? How can we vaccinate businesses that have been adversely affected?

In our experience, firms that have invested time and resources in planning have been more successful at riding out the disruption than firms who have not.

Every business is different. Certain business sectors have been more severely affected than others and organisations who entered 2020 with significant reserves of capital and cash will have had the financial resources to ride out the disruption to their incomes.

It is never too late to sit back and plan for your business. Please call if you need help to consider your options as we start the tentative emergence from lockdown.

Repaying overclaimed SEISS grants

Self-employed individuals (including partnerships) who have overclaimed the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) must pay back the overpayment to HMRC. The rules for repaying HMRC state that you must tell HMRC if you were not eligible to have claimed the grant. 

For example:

  • for the first or second grant, your business was not adversely affected
  • for the third or fourth grant, your business had not been impacted by reduced activity, capacity or demand or inability to trade in the relevant periods
  • you did not intend to continue to trade
  • you’ve incorporated your business since 5 April 2018

You must also tell HMRC if you:

  • received more than we said you were entitled to
  • amended your tax return on or after 3 March 2021 in a way which means you’re entitled to a lower grant than you received

If you have overclaimed you must tell HRMC within 90 days of receiving the grant or face additional penalties. If the amount in question is £100 or less then there is no requirement to notify HMRC or pay back any grant received. 

All qualifying self-employed businesses can continue to claim SEISS grants until 30 September 2021, if they continue to be adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. A fourth grant covers the period from 1 February 2021 to 30 April 2021 and a fifth and final grant will cover the period from May onwards.

The fourth grant will provide support covering 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500 for those who meet the eligibility requirements. The fifth and final grant will see those whose turnover has fallen by 30% or more continuing to receive the full 80% grant whilst those whose turnover has fallen by less than 30% will receive a 30% grant.

New support for High Streets and sea-side towns

As lockdown measures begin to be eased, a new package of support measures to help high streets and coastal areas across England has been announced by the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick. The support will be delivered via a new £56 million Welcome Back Fund.

The new funding will help councils boost tourism, improve green spaces and provide more outdoor seating areas, markets and food stall pop-ups – giving people more safer options to reunite with friends and relatives.

The funding can also be used by councils to:

  • Boost the look and feel of their high streets by investing in street planting, parks, green spaces and seating areas to make high streets as beautiful and welcoming as possible
  • Run publicity campaigns and prepare to hold events like street markets and festivals to support local businesses
  • Install signage and floor markings to encourage social distancing and safety
  • Improve high streets and town centres by planting flowers or removing graffiti

The Communities Secretary also announced that the government would allow pubs and restaurants to erect marquees and provide more outdoor space throughout the summer rather than for the 28 days currently permitted. 

The government also published its response to the Parking Code Framework which will curb unfair tickets and tackle cowboy parking firms through a new, simplified appeals process. This is expected to herald the return of more motorists to high streets and town centres.

£1.5bn boost for rates relief

A new Business Rates relief fund will provide a £1.5 billion tranche of support to businesses outside the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors affected by COVID-19.

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses have not been paying rates during the pandemic as part of a 15 month-long relief which runs to the end of June this year. Many businesses that were banned from applying these reliefs have been appealing for discounts on their rates bills, arguing the pandemic represented a ‘material change of circumstance’ (MCC).

The government has rejected these claims for relief on the basis that market-wide economic changes to property values, such as from COVID-19, can only be properly considered at general rates revaluations, and will therefore be legislating to rule out COVID-19-related MCC appeals.

The government will instead provide a £1.5 billion pot that will be distributed to businesses in England affected by the pandemic and not on estimates of the impact on a property’s value. This method is designed to ensure the support is provided in the fastest and fairest way possible.

The funding will be allocated to local authorities based on the stock of properties in the area whose sectors have been affected by COVID-19. Local Authorities will use their knowledge of local businesses and the local economy to make awards.