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Newsletter 157

Furlough scheme starts to wind down

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.

Internet link: IFS publication

Apprenticeship cash boost

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.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

Property tax changes

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.

Internet links: SDLT rates LTT rates

HMRC launches 13,000 investigations into COVID-19 support schemes

HMRC has launched nearly 13,000 investigations into alleged abuse of the government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) financial support schemes.

A freedom of information request revealed that, up to the end of March 2021, HMRC opened 12,828 investigations into alleged cases of fraud. 7,384 of these investigations related to abuse of the COVID-19 support schemes.

5,020 investigations were launched into the alleged misuse of the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

Commenting on the matter, a spokesperson for HMRC said:

‘It is vital we support businesses to recover by ensuring a level playing field, so the majority are not undercut by the few who tried to cheat the system.

‘We are taking tough action to tackle fraudulent behaviour. We have now opened more than 12,000 inquiries into claimants we suspect may have kept more than they were entitled to. We have also begun a handful of criminal investigations.’

Internet link: CityAM news

Schemes create one stop shop for VAT on EU trade

Three schemes were launched on 1 July to deal with VAT on business-to-consumer supplies of goods and services to EU customers.

They are known as the ‘Union’, ‘non-Union’ and ‘import’ schemes. The schemes are designed to facilitate the collection of VAT by one EU member state, which is then passed on to the member state in which the supply is deemed to take place.

The ‘Union scheme’ covers intra-EU supplies of goods and services for businesses with their place of business or a fixed establishment within the EU.

The Union scheme will also allow a UK business to hold stock within the EU (for example, the Netherlands) and pay VAT for all EU sales to the relevant tax authorities.

The ‘non-Union scheme’ covers supplies of services to EU customers by businesses with no establishment within the EU.

The ‘import scheme’ covers the distance sale of goods below €150 fulfilled from stock held outside the EU.

If businesses register for VAT using one of these schemes, they will complete one return for all EU sales, rather than being required to register for VAT in all member states in which their customers are based. These schemes will allow businesses to declare sales across all EU member states.

Internet link: Guide to the one stop shop

Over 280,000 families now using Tax-Free Childcare

More than 282,000 working families used a Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) account during March 2021, according to figures from HMRC.

HMRC stated that it is the highest recorded number of families in any one month since the scheme was launched in April 2017. These families received a share of more than £33 million in government top-up payments for their childcare.

The TFC scheme can be used to help pay for accredited holiday clubs, childminders or sports activities – enabling parents and carers to save money on the costs of childcare.

The TFC initiative is available for children aged up to 11, or 17 if the child has a disability. For every £8 deposited into an account, families will receive an additional £2 in government top-up, capped at £500 every three months, or £1,000 if the child is disabled.

Myrtle Lloyd, Director General for Customer Services at HMRC, said:

‘We want to help kids stay active this summer, whether they are going to summer holiday clubs or a childminder. A childcare top-up will go a long way towards helping parents plan and pay for summer activities to keep their kids happy and healthy.’

More details and registration for TFC can be found at www.gov.uk/tax-free-childcare

Internet link: GOV.UK TFC statistics

440,000 tax credit claimants still to renew their claims

HMRC is reminding tax credit claimants that they have until 31 July 2021 to renew their claims.

According to HMRC, 440,000 claimants have yet to renew their claims. More than 2.5 million annual tax credits packs were posted to claimants between late April and early July 2021.

Claimants will have either received an ‘auto-renewal’ reminder or a ‘reply required’ notice. All ‘reply required’ claimants must renew their claims or contact HMRC to notify them of any change in circumstances ahead of the deadline to continue receiving tax credits payments.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said:

‘We know how important tax credits are to our customers, so we’ve made it quicker and easier to renew claims online. There’s no need to wait for the 31 July deadline – do it now by searching ‘tax credits’ on GOV.UK.’

To renew your tax credits claim visit www.gov.uk/renewing-your-tax-credits-claim.

Internet links: GOV.UK press release

800,000 claim tax relief for working from home

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.

Internet link: GOV.UK news

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