HMRC investigation? Let us help protect your interests

Tax Investigation Management

Tax investigations by HMRC often come as an unpleasant shock for many and can be very stressful.

From the outset communication from HMRC can be quite intimidating as they tend to take an aggressive position and “throw the book”. The enquiry will often embrace many aspects of the business and will typically take the form of a standard template letter padded out in parts by reference to the particular client.

In other cases HMRC will issue a letter which on the face of it looks benign but has far reaching implications if not handled correctly.

At Shipleys we are non-judgmental, vigorous in defending our clients and aim to resolve the investigation in the most efficient manner possible without compromising the quality of our work.

We have the experience and know-how to handle local district cases to large tax fraud cases both in direct and indirect tax (VAT).

And with Shipleys Tax Fee Protection Partner our clients have peace of mind that in the event of an enquiry all professional fees up to the First Tier Tribunal are covered.

Sections


Areas

Some of the areas in which we regularly assist clients are:

  • Code of Practice 9
  • Code of Practice 8
  • Voluntary Disclosures to HMRC (Onshore)
  • Compliance Checks
  • Negotiated Settlements with HMRC

First steps

  • You need to know what your rights are under enquiry
  • Identify and prioritise of areas of primary concern
  • Assemble and analyse relevant information and evidence in order to quantify the correct tax liability
  • You need advice on what HMRC can ask you to produce – whether you have to provide copies of documents and soft copies of electronic files for example
  • You need an assessment of your accounting systems to know if it is robust enough to withstand scrutiny
  • You want to reduce the risk of an investigation going forward and improve compliance procedures.


How we can help

  • Our team consists of highly experienced ex-HMRC Inspectors
  • We can influence and control the pace of investigation
  • Our specialist knowledge will be utilised to challenge any incorrect assumptions made by HMRC
  • Comprehensive Fee Protection insurance for clients

Remember early intervention by a tax investigation specialist could resolve the dispute relatively quickly; what not do to is to attempt to correspond with the tax man yourself as you could unknowingly put the proverbial “foot in it”.

Are under enquiry? Do you think you are at risk of an investigation? Contact us now for independent advice on your options.


HOW DO HMRC INVESTIGATE A BUSINESS?

Some tax investigations are random but increasingly the majority are as a result of HMRC’s risk analyses/assessments.

This “risk assessment” process typically compares the results of the business to other similar businesses; it statistically analyse areas such as gross profit margin, mark-up rate and comparisons to earlier years. Where a case is “risk assessed” HMRC cannot decline the invitation to investigate.

Even where HMRC know that there was “nothing in it for them”, officers have openly admitted that they have no choice but to open an enquiry because the risk assessment process had identified the case as warranting an enquiry.


What are the trigger points to look out for?

The short answer is patterns and, to a certain extent, timing.

Timing

Most accountants are unaware that whilst HMRC can launch an investigation into a business at any time within the statutory timeframe, enquiry notices are usually timedto be issued at specific times of the year in order to control work flow. Favoured times for issuing enquiry notice are the end of January (accountants busy with heavy workloads) and Fridays (clients receive a shock when opening post on a weekend!).

Nowadays, HMRC typically impose a non-statutory time limit on the taxpayer for producing information requested in the opening letter. Often it will not be possible to provide this within the time frame specified, and it is advisable to make contact very quickly with HMRC if this is the case. This is important in both establishing a relationship with the officer dealing with the enquiry and also gaining maximum penalty mitigation for cooperation in the event there is culpability.

Patterns

HMRC expect to see consistency across a business, both within the business itself and also across similar sectors. It will expect turnover to be fairly level whilst accepting modest fluctuations in either direction. If turnover goes down it will expect expenses to decrease. If profit decreases HMRC will query if proprietors’ drawings/directors remuneration increases. This crude analysis tool is often misleading and belies the actual reasons for fluctuations leading to businesses that have nothing to hide being flagged up for enquiry.

For example, if turnover increases substantially HMRC may conclude that maybe not all of the turnover in the previous year was declared.  Or if it drops significantly then maybe some has been taken by the owner and not declared? The reality maybe that turnover has increased due to having a exceptionally good year and decreased because of a loss of a large customer or order.

Suspicion is also aroused if the claim in respect of administration expenses increases well beyond what would be expected comparing it with the previous year. HMRC will wonder whether hours have increased (hence the increase in admin expenses) and therefore the officer will wonder why turnover has gone down.

Proprietors’ drawings – a substantial increase could mean that drawings may have been understated in the past, leading HMRC to query whether any cash takings have not been declared. Similarly, if the drawings are less than the salary paid to the highest paid employee HMRC will be very uneasy – business owners are expected to be the highest earners in the business even though the reality is most proprietors in business start ups do not take any drawings in the formative years.

Gross profit margins (GPR) – typically the GPR of the business will be examined over a period of up to 6 years to see whether or not it is consistent. It will also be compared to similar businesses and fluctuations of more than a few percent will arouse suspicion. HMRC has access to a vast database of information indicating what the GPR of a particular type of business should be.

Invoices – An officer will scrutinise invoices carefully to check whether part of the invoices are being paid in cash to disguise the true GPR.

Sectors – HMRC will often target a particular sector because it has become aware of consistent malpractice across the sector. For example, Medical practices, dentists and vets are targeted because they engage locums as self- employed workers whereas in reality it is difficult to show that a locum is self- employed in many typical practices.

Professional footballers and their clubs have been under scrutiny for a few years now mainly because in some cases a player will receive a payment for the exploitation of his “image rights” and HMRC does not approve of this because it reduces or in some cases completely avoids liability to UK tax by devising a structure which holds the image rights offshore.

Umbrella companies and IT agencies using “one-man band” IT companies have been under the microscope for a long time (see IR35), mainly because it is considered that many of them are purportedly engaged as self- employed workers but the reality is that they can be deemed to be employees.

Standard of living – does an individual have the means to finance his/her standard of living? Information will be gained in this regard from a variety of sources, giving HMRC details of property owned, cars, boats, bank accounts, horses etc. Although there will often be perfectly reasonable explanations as to how such assets may have been acquired it may not stop HMRC delving further.

People often think they can outwit HMRC and stay one step ahead. However, they should be well aware of that most of the tricks which the unscrupulous businessman may try has been seen and dealt with by HMRC many times over and they underestimate HMRC at their peril.

If you require help with tax or VAT investigations then speak to our experts on 0114 272 4984 or email info@shipleystax.com.

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Job Retention Scheme Bonus – How to claim the £1k

Tax Investigation Management Shipleys Tax Advisors

GUIDANCE has been issued by Government setting out how to make a claim for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Bonus (CJRSB).

The scheme aims to pay a £1,000 bonus to employers for each eligible employee that was furloughed but was kept continuously employed until 31 January 2021.

This will work alongside the Job Support/wage subsidy scheme which takes effect from 1 November (when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme furlough scheme ends) and employers can still benefit from the bonus if they are claiming for the employee through the Job Support Scheme.

Although further guidance is expected at the end of January 2021, with details of how to access the claim portal, you will be able to claim it between 15 February 2021 and 31 March 2021.

The scheme aims to pay a £1,000 bonus to employers for each eligible employee that was furloughed but was kept continuously employed until 31 January 2021.

To find out if you’re eligible to claim the Job Retention Bonus and what you need to do to claim it we at Shipleys Tax have summarised it below.

Getting ready to claim

You cannot claim the bonus until 15 February 2021.

Before you can claim the bonus, you will to need to have reported all payments made to your employee between 6 November 2020 and 5 February 2021 to HMRC through Full Payment Submissions via Real Time Information (RTI).

There are some steps you need to take now to make sure you’re ready to claim.

You must:

  • still be enrolled for PAYE online
  • comply with your PAYE obligations to file PAYE accurately and on time under Real Time Information (RTI) reporting for all employees between 6 April 2020 and 5 February 2021
  • keep your payroll up to date and make sure you report the leaving date for any employees that stop working for you before the end of the pay period that they leave in
  • use the irregular payment indicator in Real Time Information (RTI) for any employees not being paid regularly
  • comply with all requests from HMRC to provide any employee data for past Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claims

At Shipleys Tax our clients are assured that all of the above will be taken care of.

Whats is the Job Retention Bonus?

The Job Retention Bonus is a £1,000 one-off taxable payment to you (the employer), for each eligible employee that you furloughed and kept continuously employed until 31 January 2021.

You’ll be able to claim the bonus between 15 February 2021 and 31 March 2021. You do not have to pay this money to your employee.

You’ll be able to claim the bonus between 15 February 2021 and 31 March 2021. You do not have to pay this money to your employee.

Who can claim?

You can claim the bonus if you’re an employer who has furloughed employees and made an eligible claim for them through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Your employee must have been eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant for you to be eligible for the bonus.

You can still claim the bonus if you make a claim for that employee through the Job Support Scheme.

If you have repaid Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant amounts to HMRC

You cannot claim the bonus for any employees that you have not paid using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant because you have repaid all the grant amounts you claimed for them. This applies regardless of the reason why you repaid the grant amounts.

You can still claim the bonus if you make a claim for that employee through the Job Support Scheme.

Employees you can claim for

You can claim for employees that:

  • you made an eligible claim for under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • you kept continuously employed from the end of the claim period of your last Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claim for them, until 31 January 2021
  • are not serving a contractual or statutory notice period for you on 31 January 2021 (this includes people serving notice of retirement)
  • you paid enough an amount in each relevant tax month and enough to meet the Job Retention Bonus minimum income threshold (see below).

If HMRC are still checking your Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claims, you can still claim the Job Retention Bonus but your payment may be delayed until those checks are completed.

HMRC will not pay the bonus if you made an incorrect Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claim and your employee was not eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Claiming for an individual who’s not an employee

You can claim the Job Retention Bonus for individuals who are not employees, such as office holders or agency workers, as long as you claimed a grant for them under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the other Job Retention Bonus eligibility criteria are met.

The minimum income threshold

To be eligible for the bonus you must make sure that your employees have been paid at least the minimum income threshold.

To meet the minimum income threshold you must pay your employee a total of at least £1,560 (gross) throughout the tax months:

  • 6 November to 5 December 2020
  • 6 December 2020 to 5 January 2021
  • 6 January to 5 February 2021

You must pay your employee at least one payment of taxable earnings (of any amount) in each of the relevant tax months.

The minimum income threshold criteria apply regardless of:

  • how often you pay your employees
  • any circumstances that may have reduced your employee’s pay in the relevant tax periods, such as being on statutory leave or unpaid leave

We will check that your employees have been paid at least the minimum income threshold by checking information you’ve submitted through Full Payment Submissions via Real Time Information (RTI).

When the government ends the scheme

You will have until 31 March 2021 to make a Job Retention Bonus claim after which the scheme will close. No further claims will be accepted after this date.

You will not be able to claim until 15 February 2021 and this guidance will be updated by the end of January 2021 with details on how to access the online claim service.

If you are affected by any of the issues above and would like more information, please call 0114 272 4984 or email info@shipleystax.com.

Please note that we do not give free advice by email or telephone.

New business support grants and more job scheme money announced

Tax Investigation Management Shipleys Tax Advisors

IN A NEW round of emergency economic support, the government has introduced further grants and lowered the contributions employers must make under the government’s coronavirus Job Support Scheme. At Shipleys Tax we look at the changes announced and how they affect you.

The support aims to help “open but struggling businesses” operating in areas under tier 1 and 2 coronavirus restrictions, with increased support to employers forced to close in tier 3 areas. 

The Jobs Support Scheme, which was initially announced last month, has been extended to include businesses which can open but have seen a fall in demand, by lowering the required hours employees have to work to qualify for the support from 33% of normal hours to 20%. 

In addition, businesses are now expected to cover just 5% cent of employee hours not worked, rather than the 33% as announced in last’s month Winter Economic Plan. 

It is expected the support scheme will apply to eligible businesses in all tier levels. 

The Jobs Support Scheme has been extended to include businesses which can open but have seen a fall in demand, by lowering the required hours employees have to work to qualify for the support from 33% of normal hours to 20%. 

The Chancellor also introduced a new grant scheme for businesses affected by a drop in demand, even if restrictions imposed do not require them to close. Funding would be available to pay every hospitality, leisure and accommodation business in tier 2 areas up to £2,100 for each month the restrictions apply. 

These grants will be paid to local authorities in these areas, which will then be expected to distribute the funds amongst local business. They will be backdated to August for areas under enhanced restrictions since that date.

The Chancellor also introduced a new grant scheme… funding would be available to pay every hospitality, leisure and accommodation business in tier 2 areas up to £2,100 for each month the restrictions apply. 

Changes to Job Support Scheme

The Job Support Scheme (JSS) was designed to replace the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which itself was set to end at the end October 2020. 

Initially the JSS was intended to cover funds for employees working part-time (at least 33%) in tier 1 and 2 areas and those businesses forced to close in tier 3 areas. Initially businesses were required to contribute 55% of wages to qualify for the government’s 22% top up. 

In tier 3 areas employers are only required to cover the cost of NICS and pension contributions however, with no obligation to contribute towards wages under the scheme. 

For a full rundown of the grants available and new Job Support Scheme see below.

Job Support Scheme (JSS)

When originally announced, the JSS – which will come into effect on 1 November – saw employers paying a third of their employees’ wages for hours not worked, and required employers to be working 33% of their normal hours.

The new announcement reduces the employer contribution to those unworked hours to just 5%, and reduces the minimum hours requirements to 20%, so those working just one day a week will be eligible. That means that if someone was being paid £587 for their unworked hours, the government would be contributing £543 and their employer only £44.

Employers will continue to receive the £1,000 Job Retention Bonus. The Job Support Scheme Closed for businesses legally required to close remains unchanged.

Self-employed grant

Today’s announcement increases the amount of profits covered by the two forthcoming self-employed grants from 20 per cent to 40 per cent, meaning the maximum grant will increase from £1,875 to £3,750.

This is a potential further £3.1 billion of support to the self-employed through November to January alone, with a further grant to follow covering February to April.

Business Grants for the hospitality sector

The Chancellor has also announced approved additional funding to support cash grants of up to £2,100 per month primarily for businesses in the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sector who may be adversely impacted by the restrictions in high-alert level areas. These grants will be available retrospectively for areas who have already been subject to restrictions, and come on top of higher levels of additional business support for Local Authorities moving into tier 3.

These grants are targeted mainly towards hotels, restaurants, B&Bs and many more who aren’t legally required to close but have been adversely affected by local restrictions nonetheless.

Job Support Scheme

  • The JSS starts to operate from 1 November and covers all Nations of the UK. For every hour not worked, the employee will be paid up to two-thirds of their usual salary.
  • The government will provide up to 61.67% of wages for hours not worked, up to £1541.75 per month (more than doubling the maximum payment of £697.92 under the previous rules). The cap is set above median earnings for employees in August at a reference salary of £3,125 per month.
  • Example: a typical full-time employee in the hospitality industry is paid an average of £1,100 per month. Under the Jobs Support Scheme for open businesses, they will still take home at least £807 a month. All the employer needs to pay is a total of £283 a month or just £70 a week; the government will pay the rest.
  • Employers using the scheme will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus (JRB) for each employee that meets the eligibility criteria of the JRB. This is worth £1,000 per employee. Taking JSS-Open and JRB together, an employer could receive over 95% of the total wage costs of their employees if they are retained until February.

Self Employed

  • The government will provide two taxable SEISS grants to support those experiencing reduced demand due to COVID-19 but are continuing to trade, or temporarily cannot trade.
  • It will be available to anyone who was previously eligible for the SEISS grant one and grant two, and meets the eligibility criteria.
  • Grants will be paid in two lump sum instalments each covering 3 months. The first grant will cover a three-month period from the start of November 2020 until the end of January 2021. The government will pay a taxable grant which is calculated based on 40% of three months’ average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £3,750.
  • The second grant will cover a three-month period from the start of February until the end of April 2021. The government will review the level of the second grant and set this in due course.

Business Grants

  • The govt is also providing additional funding to allow Local Authorities (LAs) to support businesses in high-alert level areas which are not legally closed, but which are severely impacted by the restrictions on socialising. The funding LAs will receive will be based on the number of hospitality, hotel, B&B, and leisure businesses in their area.
  • LAs will receive a funding amount that will be the equivalent of:
  • For properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or under, grants of £934 per month.
  • For properties with a rateable value of between £15,000-£51,000, grants of £1,400 per month.
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51,000, grants of £2,100 per month.
  • This is equivalent to 70% of the grant amounts given to legally closed businesses (worth up to £3,000/month).
  • Local Authorities will also receive a 5% top up amount to these implied grant amounts to cover other businesses that might be affected by the local restrictions, but which do not neatly fit into these categories.
  • It will be up to Local Authorities to determine which businesses are eligible for grant funding in their local areas, and what precise funding to allocate to each business – the above levels are an approximate guide.
  • Businesses in Very High alert level areas will qualify for greater support whether closed (up to £3,000/month) or open. In the latter case support is being provided through business support packages provided to Local Authorities as they move into the alert level. The government is working with local leaders to ensure the Alert Level very high packages are fair and transparent.

If you are affected by any of the issues above and would like more information, please call 0114 272 4984 or email info@shipleystax.com.

Please note that we do not give free advice by email or telephone.

More than one home – which one qualifies for tax relief on sale?

Tax Investigation Management Shipleys Tax Advisors

IN THE CURRENT climate not many people are fortunate to have more than one property. For the ones that do, there are tax pitfalls to avoid if you are thinking of selling one of those properties.

With the post lockdown mini property boom those thinking of selling the house need to remember the main residence rules when selling. At Shipleys Tax we have our experts who can guide you around the tax traps and we have summarised them below.

Main residence tax relief

The “main residence” tax relief is called Private residence relief. It removes the charge to capital gains tax on the taxpayer’s only or main residence, i.e. there is no tax to pay on sale even if you sell for a large profit.

For the purposes of the relief, a taxpayer can generally only have one residence qualifying for the relief at any one time, subject to the final period exemption for properties which have been the only or main residence at some time, set at nine months from 6 April 2020 (unless the taxpayer goes into care, in which case the final 36 months count).

The “main residence” tax relief… removes the charge to capital gains tax on the taxpayer’s only or main residence, i.e. there is no tax to pay on sale even if you sell for a large profit.

Married couples and civil partners can only have one main residence between them.

More than one residence

Where a taxpayer has more than one residence, they can nominate which of them counts as the main residence for the capital gains tax purposes. However, to be nominated, the property must be lived in as a ‘residence’ – a property which is let out cannot be nominated.

The nomination must be made within two years of the date on which the particular combination of residences changes. If a nomination is not made, which property qualifies as the main residence for capital gains tax purposes will be determined in accordance with the facts.

Where a taxpayer has more than one residence, they can nominate which of them counts as the main residence for the capital gains tax purposes.

Example

Ahmad has lived in a cottage in Shropshire since December 2012. In October 2019 he starts a new job in London, buying a flat in January 2020 to live in during the week. He has until January 2022 to nominate which of his residences is his main residence for capital gains tax purposes.

Getting married

Where a couple marry or enter into a civil partnership and each partner owned a residence which the couple continue to use after the date of their marriage of civil partnership, they must nominate which residence is their joint main residence as married couples and civil partners can only have one main residence between them. The nomination must be made within two years of the date of their marriage or civil partnership.

However, unmarried couples can each have their own main residence.

If you are affected by any of the issues above and would like more information, please call 0114 272 4984 or email info@shipleystax.com.

Please note that we do not give free advice by email or telephone.

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