DMS Posts, Tax

MTD for ITSA: Your questions answered

by Rebecca Cave

These answers are based on the guidance produced so far by the professional bodies and HMRC, the draft legislation and consultation documents. The final regulations for MTD for income tax (MTD ITSA) will be published in the Autumn (probably in October), so we can’t be confident of how the rules will work exactly until we see those regs.  

When must a business join MTD?

It is now apparent that there will be a big bang joining date for MTD ITSA on 6 April 2023 for all unincorporated businesses, whatever their current accounting period end.

Changing to a tax year basis from 2023/24 will mean that all businesses will have to report income and expenses that fall exactly into the tax year. Also, the draft legislation to bring about this change deems an accounting period ending on 31 March to be treated as ending on 5 April for tax purposes.

This combination of basis period and deeming provision means that unincorporated businesses will need to enter the MTD ITSA regime from the next accounting period starting on or after 1 April 2023. Thus businesses which draw up accounts to 31 March 2023 will join MTD ISA from 1 April 2023 not 1 April 2024.

It is possible that Treasury Ministers will be persuaded that having all unincorporated businesses joining MTD ITSA at exactly the same time, and reporting to the same quarterly deadlines, will put an impossible strain on HMRC’s systems and resources. We will have to wait and see what the final MTD regulations say when they are released.   

Will the turnover threshold change?

We do not expect the turnover threshold to change in the final MTD ITSA regulations. HMRC has made it clear that all unincorporated businesses with an annual turnover exceeding £10,000 will be required to report income and expenses under MTD ITSA.

This turnover threshold takes into account income from all businesses, trades and property. A person with £6,000 of trading income and £6,000 of rental income will be required to report under MTD ITSA as their total turnover exceeds £10,000.

Will there be any deferral of start date?

Partnerships which only have individuals as partners will have to join MTD ITSA from April 2023.

However, there will be a deferral (for an undefined period) for MTD ITSA mandation for the following categories of partnership:

  • Partnerships containing a corporate partner
  • LLPs
  • Limited partnerships

Will there be any exemptions?

The latest MTD ITSA policy update indicates that the following taxpayers will have full exemption from MTD ITSA:

  • Trusts (including trusts with property income)
  • Estates of deceased persons
  • Trustees of registered pension schemes
  • Non-resident companies 

In addition, some individuals may be able to claim exemption from MTD ITSA on the basis that they are digitally excluded.

We do not have the HMRC guidance for MTD ITSA at this point yet, but VAT Notice 700/22 indicates that if the taxpayer can get any internet access at their home, business or to another location they will not be exempt on the basis of digital exclusion. This takes no account of the speed or reliability of the internet access.    

Any easement?

HMRC has confirmed that there will be no easement for taxpayers attempting to comply with the MTD ITSA regulations in the first year, but a late filing penalty will not apply until four quarterly submissions have been filed late.

There is no information yet on whether penalties will apply for inaccurate quarterly submissions under MTD ITSA. 

The whole system of penalties for late filing and late payment of income tax and VAT is to be revised as set out in FA 2021 ss116-118, schs 24, 25, 26. The changes impose a complex system of points that build up to a financial penalty. It is expected that this new system will be brought in alongside MTD ITSA.

What are the filing deadlines?

HMRC has confirmed that the quarterly filing deadlines for all unincorporated businesses filing under MTD ITSA will be: 5 August, 5 November, 5 February, and 5 May. Those businesses with accounting dates of 31 March or 1, 2, 3, 4 April, will also file by these deadlines, so a business with a 31 March accounting date will have 5 extra days to file.   

The first mandated MTD submission for the first quarter to 5 July 2023 will have to reach HMRC by 5 August 2023, which is a Saturday in the Summer Bank Holiday weekend in Scotland. 

What exactly will be submitted?

The quarterly MTD ITSA submission will consist of total sales income in the period and totals of expenses in defined categories. It is expected that those categories will be aligned with expense totals currently required for the self-employed section of the self-assessment tax return. Quarterly balance sheet statements will not be required.

Any accounting adjustments, for say capital allowances or losses, will be made on the final submission for the year – known as the end of period statement (EOPS).

How will the tax position be finalised?

The EOPS will have to be submitted by 31 January following the end of the tax year. HMRC hope that tax software providers will incorporate the EOPS into the tax software which also compiles and submits the finalisation statement.

It is the finalisation statement, that calculates the tax liability for the year, which effectively replaces the SA tax return. Any sources of income which have not been reported on the quarterly MTD submissions or EOPS is included in the finalisation statement.

Taxpayers who are not within MTD ITSA, but are currently required to submit an SA return (eg to report gains or taxable interest) will continue to submit a SA tax return.

DMS Posts

Changes to the CJRS from July

In July, the UK Government will pay 70% of employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,187.50. In August and September, this will reduce to 60% of employees’ usual wages up to a cap of £1,875.

You will need to pay the 10% difference in July, and 20% in August and September, so that you continue to pay your furloughed employees at least 80% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work during this time, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

You can still choose to top up your employees’ wages above the 80% level or cap for each month if you wish, at your own expense.

To help you plan ahead for future claim periods, the CJRS calculator is available to help you work out how much you can claim for employees up to the end of September. To find this and everything you need to know about the CJRS, search ‘Job Retention Scheme’ on GOV‌‌.UK.

DMS Posts

Ready for a SEISS challenge: Penalties and claims

The Treasury has provided HMRC with substantial resources to recover wrongly claimed coronavirus support payments, expecting to recoup over a third of grants made.

HMRC has confirmed that it will involve agents when looking into clients’ SEISS claims, despite side-lining them when clients needed to claim SEISS.

Proving SEISS was validly claimed

Entitlement conditions have evolved with SEISS varying the evidential boxes to be ticked.

Conditions which must be metSEISS 1SEISS 2SEISS 3SEISS 4
The qualifying periodUp to 13 July 2020From 14 July to 19 Oct 20201 Nov 2020 to 29 Jan 20211 Feb to 30 April 2021
Intention to continue to trade in the tax year 2021/2022 (SEISS 4) and 2020/2021 (SEISS 1-3)YESYESYESYES
Business has been adversely affected by coronavirusYESYESYESYES
Reduced activity, capacity or demand or temporarily unable to trade in qualifying period, compared with what could reasonably have been expected but for the adverse effect of coronavirusn/an/aSales reduced in qualifying periodSales reduced in qualifying period
Reasonable belief that the business will suffer a significant reduction in trading profits in a basis period in which the qualifying period falls because of reduced activity, capacity or demand due to coronavirus.n/an/a Significant reduction in trading profits over at least one whole basis periodSignificant reduction in trading profits over at least one whole basis period

What is meant by… ?

Business adversely affected

This includes being unable to work because shielding, self-isolating, on sick leave or having care responsibilities because of coronavirus.

It also includes scaling down or temporarily stopping trading due to interrupted supply chains, fewer or no customers, staff unable to work or one or more contracts have been cancelled and the business tried to replace the lost work.

Isolation or caring responsibilities due to arrival in the UK are not valid adverse circumstances for SEISS, increasing the jeopardy of overseas travel this year.

Basis period in which the qualifying period falls

The qualifying period for SEISS 4 is 1 February to 30 April 2021 (and for SEISS 3 it was 1 November 2020 to 29 January 2021), but the basis period which must have a ‘significant reduction’ in trading profits depends what date accounts are made up to.

For many, the qualifying period may fall into two separate accounting years and, at the time of claiming, there must be a reasonable, honest belief that profits for at least one of those will suffer a significant reduction because of coronavirus. The significant reduction in profits must be for the basis period as a whole, not just the qualifying period, and it must be due to reduced sales – increased costs are not relevant for SEISS 3 and 4 claims.

Significant reduction

The Treasury and HMRC have declined to give any definition of “significant”, except to comment that it must be an honest assessment. It seems that a 30% reduction is definitely significant (based on the future SEISS 5 structure), but it may be argued that a smaller reduction is significant too, particularly if the claimant has no other source of income.

The percentage reduction is by comparison with what ‘would otherwise have reasonably been expected’, ie what profits were or could have been forecast to be if it were not for the pandemic.

Penalties and repayment of SEISS

HMRC has powers to assess overpaid SEISS even before 2020/21 tax returns are submitted, but otherwise SEISS wrongly claimed must be included on tax returns.

If a claimant didn’t know they were not entitled when the grant was received there will be no penalty, provided the grant has been repaid by 31 January 2022. At the other end of the scale, failure of a claimant to notify HMRC of a grant they knew they were not entitled to when received will be treated as deliberate and concealed for penalty purposes.

HMRC has a web page for anyone needing or choosing voluntarily to repay some or all of a SEISS claim.

DMS Posts, PAYE, Tax

Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme from July 2021

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 September 2021 and the level of grant available to employers under the scheme will stay the same until 30 June 2021.

1. Changes to the level of grant from 1 July 2021

From 1 July 2021, the level of grant will be reduced and you will be asked to contribute towards the cost of your furloughed employees’ wages. To be eligible for the grant you must continue to pay your furloughed employees 80% of their wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the time they spend on furlough.

The table below shows the level of government contribution available in the coming months, the required employer contribution and the amount that the employee receives per month where the employee is furloughed 100% of the time.

Wage caps are proportional to the hours not worked.

MayJuneJulyAugustSeptember
Government contribution: wages for hours not worked80% up to £2,50080% up to £2,50070% up to £2,187.5060% up to £1,87560% up to £1,875
Employer contribution: employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributionsYesYesYesYesYes
Employer contribution wages for hours not workedNoNo10% up to £312.5020% up to £62520% up to £625
For hours not worked employee receives80% up to £2,500 per month80% up to £2,500 per month80% up to £2,500 per month80% up to £2,500 per month80% up to £2,500 per month

You can continue to choose to top up your employees’ wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at your own expense.

DMS Posts, Tax

SEISS 4

Almost five months after the last round of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), HMRC is now sending emails, letters or messages within its online service advising those whose tax returns show they may be entitled to claim the fourth SEISS grant when their April when their personal claims window opens.

The window will open in “late April” according to HMRC and will close for all SEISS 4 claims on 1 June 2021.

SEISS has evolved

Coronavirus isn’t alone in having spawned variants. The newest SEISS variant, SEISS 4, covers the period from 1 February 2021 to 30 April 2021 and brings 2019/20 tax returns into account, both for eligibility and in calculation of the amount of the grant. This will open the scheme to some new applicants who started up in 2019/20; it excludes not only those who are no longer trading but also some who had little or no profit relative to other income in 2019/20.

Eligibility is determined by HMRC and only applies to those whose 2019/20 tax returns were submitted before 3 March 2021.

HMRC will test eligibility for 2019/20 in isolation to see if profits are under £50,000 and at least half the relevant income. For those who don’t qualify based on 2019/20 alone, HMRC will then evaluate the four tax years 2016/17, 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 combined to test if average profits across the four years are under £50,000 and at least half of relevant income.

If trading hasn’t continued through all four tax years, only the most recent continuous two or three tax years with trading income are used in determining both eligibility and amount.

Amount is also determined by HMRC, and SEISS 4 will again be 80% of three months’ average profits, but it is likely to be different to SEISS 3. The amount of SEISS 4 could be higher or lower than SEISS 3 because 2019/20 profits will be included for the first time in working out average profits.

There is no mechanism to claim a smaller amount – the only option would be to make the claim and voluntarily repay part of it.

Entitlement

Just because HMRC’s historical records may show eligibility does not mean that someone is necessarily entitled to claim. There are two important declarations required:

  1. Traded as self-employed in 2020/2021 and intending to continue to trade in 2021/2022
  2. Must have reasonable belief there will be a significant reduction in trading profits due to reduced self-employed income (not just increased costs) because of reduced business activity, capacity, demand or inability to trade due to coronavirus. There are several key terms in this declaration which will be discussed in more detail in a follow-on article next week.

Having a new child affected the 2019/20 tax year?

It may be possible in some limited circumstances for someone to make a claim even if having a new child means they do not meet the eligibility tests based on their 2019/20 tax return. They must have submitted a 2018/19 tax return and meet all other eligibility and entitlement criteria. HMRC advises: “Before making a claim, you must contact us to verify that having a new child has affected your eligibility.”

For these purposes “having a new child” includes being pregnant, giving birth (including a stillbirth after more than 24 weeks of pregnancy) and relates to the six months after giving birth, and caring for a child within 12 months of birth or adoption placement for a claimant who has parental responsibility.

Tax on SEISS payments

All SEISS variants are taxable and class 4 NICable and for SEISS 4 this will be in 2021/22, the year in which the grant is made, even though most of the qualifying three months are not in 2021/22.

SEISS grants received must be declared on self-assessment returns separately from normal business turnover.

Be prepared for HMRC checks

HMRC has repeatedly said all SEISS claims will be checked. The focus of checks will principally be the entitlement declarations claimants make, since HMRC itself is determining eligibility and amount. HMRC can be expected to automate checks to some extent by comparing SEISS claims with turnover and profits on self-assessment tax returns for 2020/21 and eventually with 2021/22 tax returns.