COVID-19 – this week’s HMRC Stakeholder digest

Apr 20, 2020

The latest HMRC Stakeholder Digest reproduced below provides a further round-up of the steps HMRC is taking during the coronavirus outbreak. Readers are reminded that anyone wishing to partake in the support for the self-employed income support scheme must ensure that they have filed their 2018/19 self-assessment return by Thursday 23 April 2020.

“Further HMRC support during coronavirus

Furlough Scheme Cut-Off Date Extended To 19 March  

Thousands more employees will be able to receive support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme after the Chancellor extended the eligibility date to 19 March 2020. Individuals originally had to be employed on February 28, 2020.

Under the scheme, employers can claim a grant covering 80% of the wages for a furloughed employee, subject to a cap of £2,500 a month.

But following a review of the delivery system and to ensure the scheme helps as many people as possible, new guidance published today has confirmed the eligibility date has been extended to March 19, 2020 – the day before the scheme was announced.

Employers can claim for furloughed employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means that the employee must have been notified to HMRC through the RTI system on or before 19 March 2020.

This change makes the scheme more generous and is expected to benefit over 200,000 people.

HMRC has been working at pace to be ready to deliver the scheme, which is due to be fully operational next week.

Updated guidance for employers is available on GOV.UK.

Updated guidance for employees is also available on GOV.UK.

Jim Harra’s media interviews today

HMRC's Chief Executive Jim Harra appeared on the Today Programme this morning at 7.15am talking about what support HMRC has put in place for businesses and individuals, in particular around furlough. You can listen back to the interview here. Jim also appeared on the 5Live Wake up to Money programme at 8.20am on the same subject – listen back here.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme 

Thank you for your continued feedback on the guidance for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS):

How to claim a grant through the coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme

How HMRC works out total income and trading profits for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme

We have recently updated the guidance to provide clarifications to some queries we’ve received, including:

  • detail of the treatment of losses, averaging and multiple trades
  • clarifications on the calculation of self-employed profits and what is meant by total income
  • confirmation that individuals are able to continue working, including taking on employment role
  • confirmation that owner-managers of Ltd companies can access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for their salary
  • confirmation that individuals can access Universal Credit and the SEISS
  • clarification on overlaps between the SEISS and CJRS (for example, you can claim the SEISS and continue working).

We would greatly appreciate your help in sharing this update as widely and as quickly as possible with your networks.

We continue to welcome your feedback. Please send any queries or feedback to the HMRC External Affairs team.

Benefits and Tax Credits

Benefits and Tax Credit payment increases came into effect on the 6 April. Individual payment dates will vary. Customers don't have to take any action – they will receive increased payment by 18 May. More information is available on GOV.UK.

This year, HMRC will automatically renew all tax credits claims apart from those identified as high risk. This means that around 3.9 million customers will have their claim auto renewed. These customers will receive an auto renewal pack and they will only need to contact us if their details differ from the pack.

We will need more information from 150,000 customers and they will be sent a reply required renewal pack and will be expected to complete it in the normal way.

Please be aware, if you are currently a tax credit claimant and you claim Universal Credit, your tax credit award will be closed from the day before your Universal Credit claim is made. Once you have made a Universal Credit claim it is not possible to go back to tax credits.

More guidance is available on GOV.UK.

Business Support Campaign

Thank you for your support in sharing our business support advice in recent weeks. We have now moved our Coronavirus Business Support site onto GOV.UK and this content will be used in campaign material from now on.  

The original Business Support website will continue to remain available in the short term, but we would be very grateful if you could point your members to our new site to ensure they have the very latest information. 

Coronavirus scammers target taxpayers

Fraudsters are taking advantage of the package of measures announced by the Government to support people and businesses affected by coronavirus. Scammers text, email or phone taxpayers offering spurious financial support or tax refunds, sometimes threatening them with arrest if they don’t immediately pay fictitious tax owed.

HMRC has detected more than 40 coronavirus-related financial scams to date, most by text message.

And we have asked Internet Service Providers to take down more than 60 web addresses associated with these scam campaigns.

HMRC’s advice

Stop:

  • Take a moment to think before parting with your information or money.
  • Genuine organisations like banks and HMRC will never contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN, password or bank details, or to withdraw money or transfer it to a different account.
  • Don’t give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in texts or emails you weren’t expecting.

Challenge:

Protect:

  • Use the latest software, apps and operating systems on your phone, tablet or laptop. Update these regularly or set your devices to automatically update so you don’t have to worry.
  • Forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599.
  • Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, and report it to Action Fraud.”