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Month: February 2022

Businesses must prepare as wider creditor action protections end in March

Businesses must prepare as wider creditor action protections end in March

Companies with debts outside of their rental arrears face the removal of protection against creditor actions from March 31, 2022.

Other debts outside rental arrears affected

Currently, rent arrears built up because of forced closures as a result of COVID-19 are excluded from these measures, as they are covered by other legislation

Any debts outside of rent arrears, must reach a £10,000 threshold before a winding-up petition can be filed. Before the filing, the creditor must have given the debtor a notice – called a Schedule 10 Notice – which states that if a proposal for payment of the debt has not been made within 21 days of the notice, then the creditor intends to file a winding-up petition.

Firms must prepare to deal with possible litigation from April 2022

However, these restrictions end on March 31, so any business with debts of more than £10,000 that are not related to rent arrears needs to be sure it is prepared for these protections to be removed, unless more legislation is passed before that date.

Challenges could be made for as little as £750 owed

Law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer highlighted that the Government has not changed the threshold to serve a statutory demand for winding-up from £750. So, while the current legislation is in place there are two thresholds in place for the compulsory winding-up process. But once Schedule 10 notices are repealed, the lower level of £750 remains.

Find out how we can help you

If you have debts outside of rental arrears that have built up due to difficult trading conditions during the pandemic, or because of forced closures, then please contact us to find out how we can help you manage this most effectively for your business.

February 21, 2022

Landlords and tenants face legally binding arbitration over rent arrear disputes

Landlords and tenants face legally binding arbitration over rent arrear disputes

Companies forced to close due to Coronavirus restrictions are currently protected from eviction by landlords until March 25, but a Government Bill currently before Parliament is expected to create binding arbitration following this date.

Code of Practice

The Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill, which was originally announced alongside a Code of Practice by Kwasi Kwarteng on November 9, 2021 protects commercial tenants in arrears from being evicted. The aim is to encourage landlords and tenants to negotiate how to deal with these arrears and to share the cost of commercial rent debts caused as a result of closures during the pandemic.

The Code of Practice outlines the process for tenants and landlords to settle outstanding debts. But any ongoing disputes after March 25 could be settled by binding arbitration if the Bill successfully passes through Parliament.

Debts built up by the likes of pubs, gyms and restaurants as a result of their forced closure during the pandemic will be within the scope of the legislation. Any debts built up outside of these times will be excluded, as will debts resulting from the voluntary closure of a business where it would not have been forced to close under the emergency measures.

Since November 10, 2021, the existing legislation has protected commercial tenants from County Court Judgements, High Court Judgements and bankruptcy petitions issued against them because of rent arrears accruing during the pandemic.

However, if no agreement can be reached, then either the tenant or landlord can apply for arbitration unilaterally. The arbitration can be applied for within six months of the legislation coming into force with the tenant expected to repay the final agreed amount within 24 months.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said at the launch: “We encourage landlords and tenants to keep working together to reach their own agreements ahead of the new laws coming into place, and we expect tenants capable of paying rent to do so.”

Support for the moves, but ‘devil is in the detail’

Kate Nicholls OBE, CEO of UK Hospitality, said: “It is in the long-term interests of landlords and tenants to come together and find solutions that ensure business survival and that do not undermine the economic recovery.

“We share government’s view that arbitration should be a last resort and this process must take into account the exceptional and existential level of pain that hospitality businesses have faced over the last 18 months. It must not impact this industry’s ability to rapidly recover and create jobs throughout the country.”

However, while Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, supports the principle of compulsory arbitration, she said the “devil will be in the detail on issues around what tenant viability really means in practice and the power of arbitrators”.

She added: “We will engage closely and constructively with government to help ensure their proposals protect otherwise viable businesses, secure the recovery, and protect jobs.”

We can support you if you have rental arrears

If you have rental arrears due to forced closures during the pandemic, then please get in touch so we can help support you through this difficult time.

February 14, 2022

Taxpayers get extension to self-assessment filing dates

Taxpayers get extension to self-assessment filing dates

Millions of taxpayers who are yet to submit their completed Self-Assessment tax return which is due before January 31 are being given a grace period to file until February 28.

More than 12.2 million customers are expected to complete a tax return for the 2020/21 tax year according to HMRC, and would usually face a penalty and interest if the return and payment in full is not made by January 31.

Deadline extended but not without cost

However, HMRC has announced it will waive penalties for a month, meaning those who cannot file before January 31 will not receive a penalty if they file before February 28, and will not receive a late payment penalty if they pay their tax in full or set up a payment arrangement before April 1. But they will still face interest payments of 2.75% on outstanding balances from February 1, so where possible it is best not to delay payment.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said: “We know some customers may struggle to meet the Self-Assessment deadline on 31 January which is why we have waived penalties for one month, giving them extra time to meet their obligations. And if anyone is worried about paying their tax bill, they can set up a monthly payment plan online – search ‘pay my Self-Assessment’ on GOV.UK.”

Remember to include all SEISS payments in your return

Like businesses, any self-assessment taxpayer who has benefited from COVID-19 support payments will need to ensure they are also included in their tax return. Any payments made under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) or any other COVID-19 support payments must be included in a self-assessment. Taxpayers who have benefited from these payments and need to file a self-assessment can check what changes might need to be made on their tax return to ensure all these payments are correctly included as income.

Which payments must be included?

The payments that need to be included in the 2020/21 tax return if they were paid before April 5, 2021, according to HMRC are:

  • Self-Employment Income Support Scheme;
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme;
  • other COVID-19 grants and support payments such as self-isolation payments, local authority grants and those for the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

However, anyone receiving the £500 one-off payment for working households receiving tax credits does not need to report this payment.

It is particularly important for those receiving SEISS grants to make sure they are included as they were paid directly to the individual rather than to a business, so these are not included in the accounts of a sole trader or partnership. Instead, they need to be added back in as an adjustment to profits in the self-assessment tax return.

HMRC has also said it will not charge late filing penalties for paper-based SA700s, SA970s that are received in February, or for SA800s and SA900s if these are filed online before the end of February.

There are a number of online facilities that HMRC has set up for anyone who needs support in relation to filing their tax returns. You can access live webinars or recordings on GOV.UK, and HMRC has also produced resources to help customers meet their obligations including YouTube videos and Self-Assessment guidance.

We can help you

If you would prefer to let someone else take the strain of dealing with your accounts, then please get in touch with us. We will help you make sure all of the relevant information is included and work to maximise your allowances, so you only pay the tax due, no more.

February 7, 2022

Businesses helped by COVID-19 support could face unexpected tax bills

Businesses helped by COVID-19 support could face unexpected tax bills

Businesses and self-assessment taxpayers are being reminded they need to include all grants paid as part of the COVID-19 support payments in their tax returns, as some may think these were non-taxable.

Have you set money aside to deal with tax on support grants?

HMRC has highlighted that all money paid for test and trace or self-isolation payments in England, Scotland or Wales are taxable, as are Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebates. The Coronavirus Business Support Grants – also known as local authority grants or business rate grants – must also be included on tax returns as these are considered income for tax purposes.

Companies that received the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) grant or a payment under the Eat Out to Help Out payment scheme will need to include both as income in their CT600 tax return and reported in the relevant boxes on their Company Tax Return.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Service, said: “We want to make sure companies are getting their tax returns right first time, including any COVID-19 support payment declarations. Support and guidance is available on GOV.UK, just search ‘file my company tax return’.”

Many companies will have been communicating with their accountants throughout the year and realise these grants are taxable. But there are concerns that those who deal with their accountant less often may not realise they should have been putting some of this money aside for tax purposes. This would leave them exposed to a bill that has not been planned for.

An outline of the costs employers could face for CJRS

While the CJRS scheme helped to reduce the number of redundancies companies may otherwise have been forced to make during COVID-19 lockdowns, there were a number of hidden costs involved with these grants. These include employer’s National Insurance contributions and employer’s pension contributions.

For example, if an employee had a normal monthly salary of £2,000 and was on full furlough, then based on 80% of their salary this would have fallen to £1,600 gross. At the rates applied in the 2020/21 tax year, the costs to the employer for this CJRS grant would be:

  • £119.78 of Employer’s Class 1A National Insurance;
  • £32.40 of Employer’s Pension Contributions (based on the 3% minimum under auto-enrolment);
  • There is also the potential cost of accrued holiday, which is £153.80 – calculated based on 4/52 weeks (this is the maximum amount of holiday that can be carried forward into the following year) x monthly salary.

Where holiday has been carried forward to the following year, businesses that are struggling to recover from the pandemic also have to contend with up to four weeks of holiday that can be passed into the following tax year. If an employee leaves the business, this could result in the employer having to find sums potentially into the thousands of pounds to account for this in the employee’s final payslip.

HMRC said to be sympathetic to companies struggling to pay tax bills

Reports suggest that HMRC is being sympathetic in relation to any tax bills that are difficult for companies to meet, with even debt collectors looking to offer solutions to deal with the debt rather than collecting it on the spot.

The deadline for customers or agents filing company tax returns (CT600) is 12 months after the end of the accounting period it covers. The deadline to pay Corporation Tax will depend on any taxable profits and when the end of the accounting period occurs. Information on which support payments need to be reported to HMRC and any that do not is available on GOV.UK.

Contact us

If you think you will struggle to meet any of your tax liabilities this year, then please contact us as soon as possible to get advice on the best course of action.

February 1, 2022