This week’s COVID-19 tidbits, 20 July 2020

Jul 20, 2020

HMRC and the UK Government continue to publish updates on COVID-19 related issues. When using a form or publication going forward or contacting HMRC, check you are using the most recent version or up to date way of contact which may have changed due to the pandemic.  

  • Scotland and Wales have now both announced a change to the zero per cent threshold for their equivalents of stamp duty land tax for residential properties, following on from the Chancellor’s Summer Statement earlier this month the highlights of which we covered last week;  

  • The work of HMRC’s Powers and Safeguards Evaluation Forum of which this Institute is a member was delayed due to the pandemic; however work is recommencing this month; 

  • “Find out about taxable expenses and benefits when they are paid to employees because of coronavirus and how to report them to HMRC” has been updated

  • The Government has announced that an extra £37.8m is available to debt advice providers in 2020/21 to help people who are struggling with their finances due to the pandemic; 

  • Recently the Law Society shared with us two documents which may be of interest to members:- Guidance on the execution of wills during the pandemic; and The First-tier Tribunal (Tax Chamber) COVID-19 response to reports of Delays etc.; and 

  • HMRC has updated the guidance on the treatment of certain expenses and benefits provided to employees during the COVID-19 outbreak. This confirms that no taxable benefit arises where employers provide PPE, or reimburse employees for the cost of providing their own PPE, where there is a high risk of workplace transmission and the employer’s risk assessment shows that PPE is required. The guidance also confirms that COVID-19 tests provided by the Government, as part of its national testing scheme, are not treated as a benefit in kind for tax purposes. The Government is legislating for this through regulations, and guidance will be updated shortly; 

  • Eligible businesses can register for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme online at GOV.UK; and 

  • HMRC has recently contacted us to advise it is beginning to contact taxpayers with outstanding tax debt who do not have a time to pay or other deferral arrangement in place; we are working with HMRC to ensure this is done in a sensitive and fair manner. HMRC is making clear that it wants to work with those who have current tax debts to encourage payment now where they can afford to do so. Some taxpayers may not be able to pay in full, so HMRC is encouraging them to make contact to find a way of paying they can afford such as paying in instalments.