HMRC defends tax debt enforcement

Mary Aiston, HMRC’s director of counter-avoidance, has defended enforcement tactics utilised by the Revenue, telling a House of Lords committee that it has acted “in the most sensitive way” when handling tax debts. This came after a Times investigation uncovered examples of aggressive tactics, with people struggling due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic threatened with repossessions and accused of “deliberately” choosing not to repay tax debts. Viscount Chandos, a member of the House of Lords economic affairs finance bill sub-committee and chairman of the credit services association, asked Ms Aiston about the reports. She said early in the pandemic the Revenue had “pulled back from a huge amount of our debt collection” before restarting it “in as sensitive and data-led way as we can”. She added that the fact a “very, very high percentage quid pro quo; of payment terms reached with people are successful shows HMRC does “take a lot of care to reflect people’s personal circumstances and the sensitivity of being in tax debt”.

The Times, Page: 24

Hard to sell an online retail tax?

The Telegraph’s Ryan Bourne considers the implications of an online sales tax, with a poll showing that 56% of people believe web retailers should be taxed more to help drive down national debt. He suggests that the public will be less keen on an online sales tax once they are aware it will mean prices rise. He also argues that while some within government have suggested such a levy is needed, to “use taxes to try to prevent new business forms acquiring market share is especially damaging when consumers’ preferences are shifting sharply towards them.” Mr Bourne notes that proponents of an online sales tax say it will level the playing field between online and physical retailers, with the latter burdened more heavily by business rates. However, he argues that business practices designed to avoid the high fixed costs associated with inner-city rents and rates are “afforded to all retailer s”.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 2

Windfall tax could balance the books

Leo McKinstry in the Express says that large tech firms which have seen a “dramatic surge” in revenues during the coronavirus crisis should be the target of a windfall tax. He argues that such a move would boost public finances which “have been battered by the pandemic”, noting that national debt now exceeds £2trn while annual borrowing could reach £400bn this year. Mr McKinstry notes that some experts say a wealth tax on assets over £500,000 or a rise in corporation tax could help balance the books but warns that such levies could prove counter-productive by undermining enterprise. They are, he says, blunt instruments, whereas a windfall tax is a “precision weapon”.

Daily Express

The pandemic is an opportunity to simplify UK tax rules

BDO ’s Paul Falvey believes the coronavirus pandemic presents HMRC the opportunity to simplify the tax system, warning that it is a “confused and confusing web of rules” which “lacks coherence”.

Financial Times, Page: 2


Businesses more concerned over COVID restrictions than Brexit

A new survey of more than 600 mid-market businesses by Grant Thornton has found the majority remain positive ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU. Only a fifth believe that Brexit will negatively impact on their business in the next six months, while 31% think it will not have any impact. Business leaders are more concerned about the negative impact of continued coronavirus-related restrictions. The poll saw 41% say further lockdown restrictions would be bad for their business, while 22% think Brexit would have a negative impact.

City AM

Facebook tax bill ‘beggars belief’

Facebook has been told to “pay its fair share” after its accounts revealed a slight increase in its tax bill despite profits surging. While operating profits climbed to £122m in 2019 from £97m the year before and recognised revenue climbed from £797m to £1.07bn, its total income tax outlay was £28.6m compared to £28.5m a year earlier. Margaret Hodge, former chair of the Public Accounts Committee and current chair of a parliamentary group on responsible taxation, said the tax figure “beggars belief”. “Facebook and the rest of the tech giants must do their moral duty and pay their fair share,” she added.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 5 The I, Page: 12 The Sun, Page: 8

Spotify pays less than £1m in UK tax

Despite global revenues of £6bn last year, Spotify UK paid £994,152 in tax to the Treasury. The firm had turnover of £90.3m in the UK with a pre-tax profit of £6.3m, with this far below the £434m in revenue reported by its parent company. A second Spotify UK business which earns money from intercompany commission fees generated £19.3m in turnover in 2019 and paid no corporation tax.

Daily Mirror, Page: 17 Daily Express, Page: 15


Chancellor extends furlough scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the furlough scheme for a month, with the job retention scheme to run until the end of April 2021. Confirming that the Government will continue to pay up to 80% of the wages of workers who have been furloughed, Mr Sunak said the move would provide “certainty for millions of jobs and businesses”.

The Daily Telegraph The Times BBC News


Loan schemes extended

The Treasury has announced extensions of its business loan guarantee schemes until the end of March. The new round of funding from the Treasury covers the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Bounce-Back Loans Scheme and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry, said that “with cashflow difficulties still at the forefront of the minds of many business owners, continued access to Government-backed loans through to Spring will bring great comfort.”

The Times Financial Times The Daily Telegraph City AM


BoE holds interest rates at 0.1%

The Bank of England (BoE) has kept interest rates at the lowest levels on record, with its monetary policy committee voting unanimously to keep the official interest rate at 0.1%. The committee also opted to keep the Bank’s quantitative easing bond-buying programme unchanged at £895bn, having pumped an additional £150bn into the economy last month. The BoE says it expects GDP to be down by 11% over 2020, with pandemic-driven lockdowns and restrictions delivering a decline in Q4, although a projected increase of 2.1% in Q1 2021 is set to avert a double-dip recession. The committee said the development of coronavirus vaccines was “likely to reduce the downside risks to the economic outlook” but warned that if no post-Brexit trade deal is agreed with the EU, “inflation would be likely to be higher and GDP growth weaker” than projections made in November. Meanwhile, economic output grew by 0.4% in October, the Bank revealed, but it still remained around 8% lower than at the end of 2019.

The Times The Guardian Daily Mail Sky News

Inflation expectations on the up

A YouGov poll for Citi shows that people expect average inflation in the UK over the next 12 months to hit 3.8%. The figure, which is up from 3.3% in November, is the highest since 2011. The poll of 2,020 people shows that expectations for inflation over a five- to 10-year period held steady at 3.4%. Citi economists said: “Despite recent moderation, inflation expectations remain relatively high.”



UK leads the world on cutting emissions

Analysis by PwC shows that the UK has cut its carbon emissions more than any other country this century, with carbon emissions down by 3.7% every year as it expanded the use of renewable energy while using less coal, natural gas and oil. The firm says countries need to cut CO2 production by 11.7% a year to meet targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

Daily Mail, Page: 15

Jet boost for economy

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet will generate economic benefits of more than £40bn by 2038, mostly through its supply chain, according to a report from KPMG which also notes that the programme will support 20,000 British jobs a year.

The Sun, Page: 54

Contact Paul Southward

Paul Southward





Here is an update on the latest information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme, see what actions you may need to be taking: –

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

The CJRS has been extended to 31 March 2021 for all parts of the UK.  From 1November, the UK Government will pay 80% of employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. The government will review the terms of the scheme in January.

Employers and their employees do not need to have benefited from the scheme before to claim for periods from 1 November.

Time limits you need to be aware of

  • Submit any claims for periods up to 31October on or before 30 November – they will not be accepted after this date. Claims are subject to eligibility and the rules in force at the time.
  • Submit any claims for November, no later than 14 December. You can claim before, during or after you process your payroll as long as your claim is submitted by the deadline.
  • Keep any records that support the amount of CJRS grant you claim, in case HMRC needs to check them. You can view, print or download copies of your previously submitted claims by logging onto your CJRS service on GOV‌.UK.

For claim periods from 1 December, employers cannot claim CJRS grants for any days that their employee is serving a contractual or statutory notice period, including notice of retirement or resignation.

You can check if you’re eligible, and work out how much you can claim using HMRC’s  CJRS calculator and examples – here:


Claims deadlines

There are now monthly deadlines for claims. Claims for periods starting on or after 1 November must be submitted within 14 calendar days after the month they relate to, unless this falls on a weekend in which case the deadline is the next weekday. The deadline to make claims for employees furloughed in November is Monday 14 December.

Here is a summary of the CJRS deadlines:

Claim for furlough days in;Claims must be submitted by:
November 202014 December 2020
December 202014 January 2021
January 202115 February 2021
February 202115 March 2021
March 202114 April 2021

Publishing employers’ information

HMRC will publish the names, an indication of the value of claims and Company Registration Numbers of employers who make CJRS claims for periods from December onwards. HMRC will notify you with details of when this information will be published.

For claim periods from December, employees will also be able to check if their employer has made a CJRS claim on their behalf through their online Personal Tax Account.

VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme

Businesses who deferred VAT due from 20 March to 30 June 2020 will now have the option to pay in smaller payments over a longer period. Instead of paying the full amount by the end of March 2021, businesses can make up to 11 smaller monthly payments, interest free. All instalments must be paid by the end of March 2022. They will need to opt-in to the scheme, and for those who do, this means that their deferred VAT liabilities do not need to be paid by the end of March 2021.

The VAT Deferral New Payment Scheme will require a Direct Debit to be set up as part of the digital opt-in process and this must be done by the authorised bank account holder. Because of that, HMRC is unable to provide an agent service for the scheme. Businesses that can pay their deferred VAT should still do so by 31 March 2021.

You can find further information on GOV.UK by searching ‘Pay VAT deferred due to coronavirus’.


UK bosses rush to sell stakes over capital gains tax fears

City brokers and accountants say they had been swamped with calls from company bosses preparing to sell down stakes in businesses ahead of a potential increase in capital gains tax next year. Tim Stovold, partner at Moore Kingston Smith, calculated that selling a business worth £5m at current CGT rates would see an entrepreneur pay £900,000 in tax – a 10% CGT rate on the first £1m and 20% on the remaining £4m. However, if CGT and income tax rates were aligned and business asset disposal relief scrapped, an additional rate income taxpayer would pay CGT at 45% on the £5m business – a total of £2.25m. Heather Self, partner at Blick Rothenberg, said many of her clients who had been thinking about selling were bringing forward plans since a review commissioned by Rishi Sunak last week recommended aligning CGT with income tax. Separately, research by private equity firm Growthdeck found Londoners pay nearly 30% of the UK’s CGT despite being home to just 13% of the population, with taxpayers in Kensington and Chelsea paying the most. Gary Robins, head of business development at Growthdeck, said: “For over £500m of capital gains tax to be paid a year in Kensington & Chelsea is astonishing […] More taxpayers should look into whether EIS investment might be a sensible way for them to defer enormous CGT bills, as well as saving on income tax and inheritance tax.”

Financial Times, Page: 10 City AM

Energy industry calls for UK to adopt carbon trading after Brexit

The UK has been urged to reject calls for a carbon tax after Brexit and instead opt for a carbon trading system, arguing that this would be the most efficient way to cut pollution.

Financial Times, Page: 3


Government urged to tell shoppers to snub Black Friday sales

Retail and business groups have urged the Government to tell shoppers to avoid the Black Friday sales and save their Christmas spending for the high street. They warned that small shops could disappear from communities if they do not receive support when they reopen. Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “After eight months of disruption, and fresh restrictions on the way, small businesses need your help now more than ever. We’re calling on all shoppers to buy from independents over Black Friday and beyond – be that online, or safely in-person when they’re allowed to re-open their doors. It would be fantastic to see politicians of all stripes getting behind this message.”

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 5

New council powers to tackle COVID-19 breaches

Downing Street has announced new powers for local authorities, allowing them to shut down businesses for up to a week for breaching coronavirus regulations. The new measures will allow councils to “formally request rapid improvement” from offending firms, and close premises for 48 hours or seven days “where appropriate through the issuing of notices”, according to the Prime Minister’s spokesman. Breaking improvement notices and restriction notices will attract fines of £2,000 and £4,000 respectively. Business leaders warned against a “heavy-handed” approach. “The last thing a small business needs right now is the return of Captain Clipboard,” warned Craig Beaumont of the Federation of Small Businesses.

The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 1 Daily Mail

Ministers told to extend access to Ombudsman

Hundreds of thousands more small companies must be granted access to independent redress services, the Government has been told, in order to address an “imbalance of power” with telecoms and energy suppliers. The size of businesses able to make a complaint about telecoms or energy, for example, is different – with the limits described as “arbitrary” by the FSB. Matthew Vickers, chief executive of Ombudsman Services, said that it was regularly forced to “turn away” businesses because they were too large and that dispute resolution in energy and telecoms should be brought into line with financial services.

The Times, Page: 50


Sunak pledges £4.5bn to help the unemployed back to work

Rishi Sunak will today pledge to spend £2.9bn to help a million unemployed people back into work. As part of his Spending Review, the Chancellor will announce a new “Restart” programme that will see those who have been out of work for more than 12 months provided with intensive and regular support that is tailored to their circumstances. Additionally, Mr Sunak will put another £1.4bn into extra help for those who have been jobless for more than three months. There will also be £1.6bn for the Kickstart scheme, launched in August, which the Treasury has said will create up to 250,000 state-subsidised jobs for young people. Matthew Fell, policy director of the CBI, said the chancellor was right to focus on job creation as the economy looked to recover in 2021. “COVID-19 has swept away many job opportunities, for young people in particular,” he said. “The scarring effects of long-term unemployment are all too real, so the sooner more people can get back into work the better.”

BBC News Financial Times The Times The Guardian Daily Mail


Property boom as buyers trade up

With the stamp duty holiday boosting the property market earlier this year, residential transactions were up 8.1% to 105,630 in October compared to the year earlier period. “Residential transactions have increased incrementally each month [since May], reflecting the gradual easing of coronavirus public health restrictions for the property market and the introduction of residential transaction tax holidays within the various UK administrations,” HMRC said. Growth has been driven at the higher end of the market by householders looking to trade up for bigger homes, but analysts said some of this demand was starting to fade due a reduction in stock on the market.

The Times, Page: 48 City AM


Government tipped to introduce 25% flat rate pensions tax relief

Rishi Sunak’s rumoured move to create a flat rate on pensions tax relief of 25% could leave a “big dent” in top earners’ pension pots according to Aegon. The Chancellor is said to be “very attracted” to the idea of moving to a flat rate, which could be announced in today’s spending review and would help the Government recoup some of the costs of COVID-19. Analysis from Aegon found under a flat rate of 25%, a basic rate taxpayer paying £100 a month into their defined contribution pension would see this topped up to £133.33 rather than the current £125, an extra £8.33. However, a higher rate taxpayer who currently sees their £100 increased to £166.66 would see this reduced by £33.33.

Pensions Age Professional Adviser FT Adviser Daily Express


Booming retailers told to return coronavirus aid

The CEO of online electricals retailer AO World has urged fellow retail executives to reconsider their decision to keep business rates relief and furlough cash handed out during the pandemic. John Roberts said the argument that business rates were unfair was a separate issue – this is about whether it is right to pay out dividends on profits after taking taxpayers’ cash. Mr Roberts said: “The pandemic is a societal challenge, and I think all people and individuals and businesses should do their bit.” He added: “We live by the mantra of if I had to explain my actions to my mum over dinner tonight, would she be proud? Everyone knows what that means for their businesses. Maybe they [the supermarkets] should go and ask their mum.”

The Times, Page: 45 The Guardian, Page: 37 The Independent, Page: 52 Daily Mail, Page: 75


Chancellor to unveil spending plans for the coming year

Rishi Sunak will unveil the Government’s spending plans for the coming year today with his Spending Review expected to include details on public sector pay, NHS funding, the state of the economy and a new jobs programme. The Chancellor will announce that the foreign aid budget will be cut by £4bn a year to £10bn as part of moves to shore up Britain’s finances as the country recovers from the pandemic. Ministers will introduce legislation to allow spending to be kept at a reduced level for several years. There have also been reports that the Chancellor is considering a pay freeze for all public sector workers except frontline NHS staff. The economy is projected to be 10% smaller than it was pre-virus with tax revenues dramatically down and public borrowing forecast to rise to £372bn, compared to the £55bn the Government had originally expected to borrow.

BBC News The Sun, Page: 10 The Daily Telegraph, Page: 1, 2


Accountants and bankers swear the most at work

A survey of 1,400 employees at 100 UK companies commissioned by Savoy Stewart found that bankers, accountants and lawyers are the most foul-mouthed during internal meetings across British workplaces. Accountants and bankers lead the league table in a survey of 14 business sectors. Lawyers were in second position, followed by workers in travel and hospitality and sales. The preferred expletive for bankers and accountants was the old Anglo-Saxon stalwart of f***. Lawyers, on the other hand, were more partial to bullshit, presumably in reference to their opponents’ legal arguments. The research found that media professionals were mostly fond of bollocks. Those working for charities and volunteering were found to be the least likely to swear during meetings.

The Times, Page: 28

Contact Paul Southward [Tax Consultant]

Paul Southward



On Friday 29th May 2020 the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced more details about the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and we’ve outlined these below for you.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Chancellor has announced three changes to the job retention scheme:

  1. From 1st July 2020, the scheme will be made more flexible to enable employers to bring previously furloughed employees back part time and still receive a grant for the time when they are not working.
  2. From 1st August 2020, employers will have to start contributing to the wage costs of paying their furloughed staff and this employer contribution will gradually increase in September and October.
  3. The scheme will close to new entrants from 30th June.
  1. Part time furloughing

From 1st July 2020, businesses using the scheme will have the flexibility to bring previously furloughed employees back to work part time – with the government continuing to pay 80% of wages for any of their normal hours they do not work up until the end of August. This flexibility comes a month earlier than previously announced to help people get back to work.

Employers will decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return, and will be responsible for paying their wages in full while working. This means that employees can work as much or as little as the business needs, with no minimum time that they can furlough staff for.

Any working hours arrangement agreed between a business and their employee must cover at least one week and be confirmed to the employee in writing. When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours, they will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week. They can choose to make claims for longer periods such as on monthly or two weekly cycles if preferred. Employers will be required to submit data on the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period and actual hours worked.

If employees are unable to return to work, or employers do not have work for them to do, they can remain on furlough and the employer can continue to claim the grant for their full hours under the existing rules.

  1. Employer contributions

From August, the government grant provided through the job retention scheme will be slowly tapered.

  • in June and July, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICs) and pension contributions for the hours the employee doesn’t work – employers will have to pay employees for the hours they work
  • in August, the government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 but employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs that they would have incurred if the employee had not been furloughed
  • in September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee does not work – employers will pay ER NICs, pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% of the total up to a cap of £2,500
  • in October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee does not work – employers will pay ER NICs, pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% of the total up to a cap of £2,500
  • the cap on the furlough grant will be proportional to the hours not worked.

Many smaller employers have some or all of their employer NIC bills covered by the Employment Allowance so will not be significantly impacted by that part of the tapering of the government contribution.

Around a quarter of CJRS monthly claims relate to wages that are below the threshold where employer NICs and auto enrolment contributions are due, and so no employer contribution will be required for these furloughed employees in August.

  1. Important dates

It’s important to note that the scheme will close to new entrants from 30th June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30th June.

This means that the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10th June for the current three-week furlough period to be completed by 30th June. Employers will have until 31st July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30th June.

Guidance and support

Further support for employers and agents on how to calculate claims with this extra flexibility will be available by 12th June, including webinars and detailed online guidance. For information about how to claim, go to GOV.UK and search ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’. Please do not call us for more information, everything you need to know about this scheme will be published online on GOV.UK.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

The Chancellor also announced plans to extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) for those people whose trade continues to be, or is newly, adversely affected by COVID-19 (coronavirus). Eligible self-employed people will be able to claim a second and final SEISS grant in August; this will be a taxable grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits for three months, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £6,570 in total.

The eligibility criteria for the second grant will be the same as for the first grant. People do not need to have claimed the first grant to claim the second grant: for example, their business may have been adversely affected by COVID-19 (coronavirus) more recently.

Claims for the first SEISS grant, which opened on 13th May, must be made no later than 13th July. Eligible self-employed people must make a claim before that date to receive the first SEISS grant (a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total). So far, we’ve seen over 2.3 million claims worth £6.8 billion.

It’s really important to note that as with the first SEISS grant, the eligible individual must make the claim themselves. If you attempt to make a claim on behalf of your client, this will trigger a fraud alert and will result in significant delays to payment. However, you can help to prepare your clients by ensuring they have the relevant information ready. The claims process is simple: we will calculate the amount of self-employment support individuals will receive, they don’t need to do this themselves.

More information about the second SEISS grant will be available on GOV.UK on 12th June.

In the meantime, please help us reach those self-employed people who could benefit from a SEISS grant now, by encouraging anyone you think might be eligible for the first grant but hasn’t yet made a claim to do so before 13th July.

Protect yourself from scams

Stay vigilant about scams, which may mimic government messages as a way of appearing authentic and unthreatening. Search ‘scams’ on GOV.‌‌UK for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact. You can also forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to and texts to 60599.

Return to the KSK recent news pages to keep up to date with the latest developments.




29th April 2020

Here are links to the government support links giving the latest guidance:


This links to the main finance support, covering:

  • Paying your employees
  • Paying sick pay
  • Paying tax
  • Business rates relief
  • Business support grants
  • Support for the self-employed
  • Support for small and medium-sized businesses
  • Support for large businesses

Here: financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19



  • Claim a grant:


  • Universal credit:


  • If you cannot pay your tax bill on time:


  • Continuing working -safe social distancing:


  • Relaxation for Drivers’ hours:


  • Negotiating a mortgage payment holiday:




  • General guidance and safeguarding employees:


  • Claiming wages through the Job Retention Scheme


  • Social distancing in the workplace:


  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Guidance:


  • Claim back SSP:


  • Guidance if employee needs time off:


  • Working from home – employee expenses:


  • Apprenticeships during the coronavirus outbreak:


  • Advice for Tier 2, 4 and 5 sponsors:




  • Cleaning your workplace safely:


  • Hand hygiene posters:


  • Temporary relaxation of rules to help businesses:


  • Construction sites and safe working:


  • Farmers, landowners and rural businesses:


  • Food businesses:


  • Freight transport industry:


  • Medical and Healthcare industry:


  • Shipping and seaports businesses:


  • Supported accommodation, residential care and home care:


  • Transport businesses:


  • Avoiding and supporting scammers:



  • Businesses that must close:


  • Staying safe and continuing in business:


  • Holiday accommodation:


  • Closed businesses and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme:



  • Offer the help of your business:


All the links are correct at the time of publication, please reporting missing / broken links to Paul Southward.

If you need any further help or guidance on any of the matters above contact Paul Southward or your usual KSK contact.

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