Coronavirus: Government Support for the Self-Employed

Rishi Sunak, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced the self-employed and those who run a business as a partnership are to receive 80% of earnings, calculated from the mean average of their trading profits for the 3 previous tax returns (2016/17, 2017/18, & 2018/19).  The trading profit is the taxable profit that is calculated as part of your income tax return, from either self-employment or as part of a partnership.

The scheme is called the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

The average is determined by adding the trading profits for the three years, then dividing by three (if you’ve only been trading for two years, the government will add those two years and divide by two instead).  This average can then be divided by 12 to calculate you monthly income average.  80% of this average will be what the government will offer you as a grant which is taxable (-meaning it will need to be declared in your 2020/21 tax return as income received).

The grant is capped at £2,500 p/m and last only for 3 months (although this may be extended depending on how the coronavirus pandemic plays out in the UK).

For you to be eligible, more than half of your income must come from your self-employment. In other words, you can’t claim if more than half your income come comes from another source, such as full-time employment.

Similarly, if more than 50% of your income comes from other sources usually included on your Self-Assessment tax return, such as investment or rental income, then you are not eligible.

Furthermore, you aren’t eligible for the grant if the 2018-19 trading profit is equal to or greater than £50,000, and the average profits for previous years starting in 2016-17 are equal to or greater than £50,000.

If you have not yet submitted your 2018/19 tax return (that was due 31/01/20), you will NOT be eligible for the grant.  If you were self-employed during this period (06/04/2018-05/04/2019), then you have till the 23rd of April to submit your tax return and qualify for the SEISS.  Contact us at Taxfile to help submit your 2018/19 tax return on 020 8761 8000.

Who isn’t eligible?

You are not eligible for the SEISS grant if any of the following applies:

  • Your trading profits are equal to or more than £50,000 – for both tax year 2018/19 and when averaged across the tax years you traded in during last three full tax years starting in 2016/17.
  • You aren’t self-employed or in a partnership at the moment, or don’t intend to be in the future. It’s not enough to merely be enrolled for Self Assessment and to have undertaken self-employment work or have a role in a partnership at some point in the past year. You must be trading now and intend to do so in the 2020/21 tax year too.
  • You failed to submit a Self Assessment tax return for the 2018/19 tax year before 23 April 2020.
  • You haven’t lost trading profits due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Less than 50% of your income comes from your self-employment or partnership.

To apply for the SEISS, the government will contact you (via post) and invite you to apply online, using details they have via your self-assessment registration.  It is estimated that the scheme will be available from June 2020, and that will be the earliest that the grant will be available to the self-employed.

Other coronavirus measures for self-employed workers

There are other coronavirus emergency measures that the government has put in place that might help you, as a self-employed individual or member of a partnership.

Deferred income tax payments

Self Assessment payments due on 31 July 2020 (that is, income tax payments on account) can be deferred until 31 January 2021.

Anybody who fills in a Self Assessment return and who is liable for payments on account can make use of this, not just the self-employed.

Time to Pay

If you’re self-employed and struggling to meet outstanding tax obligations due to financial difficulties, you can contact HMRC to see if you’re eligible for support via the existing HMRC Time to Pay Scheme.  This allows more time to settle financial obligations if you can demonstrate a reasonable ability to pay in future. Contact HMRC on the special coronavirus helpline: 0800 0159 559.

Universal Credit increases

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the government has increased Universal Credit amounts beyond the already anticipated yearly increase as of April 2020.

The standard allowance will be £409.89 per month.

Grants for businesses that pay little or no rates

If your business operates from a property and is registered for the Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR), or Rural Rate Relief (RRR), then it will receive an automatic grant of £10,000 from your local authority.

You don’t need to do anything to receive this (note: the requirements differ depending on where in the UK your business is located).

However, if your business doesn’t pay any rates, you may need to contact your local authority to ensure it has your bank details for the payment.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Businesses can apply for a loan with approved lenders. The government will underwrite 80% of the loan, making the loan more widely available to those who might not normally be able to apply.

It will also pay the interest for the first six months.

MOTs have been suspended

Those who use a vehicle for their self-employed work will be pleased to hear that MOTs have been suspended for six months, provided the MOT falls after 30 March 2020.

The vehicle must be kept in a road-worthy condition but the exemption is automatic, so there’s no need to apply for it.

If in your self-employment business you use a lorry, bus or trailer then there are different rules – MOTs are suspended for three months as of 21 March 2020.

This again is automatic, although you may need to apply under certain conditions.

Deferral of VAT Payments

If you are a VAT registered business in the UK and have a VAT payment to make between 20/03/20 & 30/06/20, this payment can be now deferred till 31/03/2021 without any penalties or charges imposed.  If you pay via Direct debit, this needs to be cancelled with your bank for the deferment to occur.   More information can be found at deferral of VAT payments due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

CIS - tax refunds for construction workers

Construction Industry Scheme (CIS): How to Claim a Tax Refund

CIS - tax refunds for construction workersIt’s now time to start the process of claiming your tax refund if you are a subcontractor working within the construction industry and have been paying tax, in advance, through the Construction Industry Scheme (‘CIS’). In this article we will tell you how you qualify and how to claim your tax refund. First, though, a little bit of background to the scheme:

The CIS Scheme

The Construction Industry Scheme, or CIS, is a scheme whereby a contractor in the construction industry usually deducts a proportion of the money due to their subcontractor, at source. The deducted amount is then passed direct to HMRC and counts towards the subcontractor’s tax and National Insurance, the tax element effectively being paid in advance. The exact proportion deducted depends on whether the subcontractor concerned has registered under the CIS system. If the subcontractor has not registered, the deduction will usually be made at a rate of 30%. If they have already registered, then the deduction will usually be made at a rate of 20%. Either way, by the financial year end, the amount of tax deducted at source will usually end up being more than they really needed to have paid, simply because it won’t have factored in the personal allowance which every UK taxpayer is entitled to (most UK citizens can earn up to £10,000 before paying tax at time of writing, this figure being set to rise to £10,600 in the tax year 2015-16, 10,800 a year later then increasing to £11,000 by 2017-18 following the recent budget proposals). Hence, many subcontractors in the construction industry will be due a tax refund because of the overpayment. The good news is that the time to apply for the refund is pretty much now, so get in touch if you’d like our help claiming.

What kind of work does CIS cover?

You qualify to be in the CIS system if you are a subcontractor who supplies construction work to buildings. This includes labouring, decorating, site preparation and refurbishment but excludes things like architecture, surveying services, the hire of scaffolding without labour, the fitting of carpets, the delivery of materials, and finally non-construction type services such as site facilities (canteens etc.).

What if your business is not in the UK?

Even if your business is abroad, the same rules apply if you work as a subcontractor within the UK. However there are some slightly different rules regarding the treatment of taxation for non-resident workers from countries which have ‘Double Taxation’ treaties with the UK (we can, of course, also help with that — just get in contact).

Registering for CIS

If you haven’t already registered for CIS as a sub-contractor, Taxfile can help to do this for you. You’ll need to be registered for Self Assessment (we can also help with this) and this will give you your UTR (unique taxpayer reference) number. We’ll also need your name, National Insurance number, your legal business/trading name and contact details. Once registered with CIS one of the immediate benefits will be that you’ll then have tax deductions made at the 20% rate rather than at 30%, which would otherwise be the case. If your business is a legal partnership you will also need to register it for CIS but this would need to be done in addition to being registered as an individual or sole trader. Of course, Taxfile can help with that too. Once you have been registered with CIS and have passed certain eligibility criteria, it is also possible to apply for ‘gross payment status’ meaning that you’ll then be paid by the contractor without the usual ‘at source’ deductions. Instead you’ll need to pay any outstanding tax and National Insurance at the financial year end; however HMRC will review your business each year to check that you still qualify for this status (paying tax late and/or submitting returns late would put your gross payment status at risk).

Offsetting Expenses against your tax

Taxfile can also help you to offset certain expenses against your subcontractor income. This means that any tax refund will be larger — or any tax outstanding will be lower. We can offset Read more

Casual labour / subcontracting

It is not widely known that you must establish someone’s status when you pay them any money for helping you with their labour.The trick or tip is to get them to supply their unique tax reference number. They should invoice you for their services . If they don’t offer an invoice, it’s best to issue a self billing invoice for them to sign at the time you hand over the money.
Lots of people will offer their services to you if you have work which needs doing. In some industries it’s well regulated such as within the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).
Most labour suppliers will be registered as self employed or a partnership and frequently these days as a limited company.
Each of them will have its own unique tax reference number (UTR).
They are not obliged to put this on their invoice to you.
You must request it if you fall into the classification termed by the government as a contractor or subcontractor.
There is a useful helpline for Construction Industry Scheme if you are not sure about your position and always try to get professional tax advice from companies like Taxfile in South London where their tax accountants make sure to sort out all your tax affairs.
If for example you are doing up a buy to let then you do not necessarily have to register just for this one activity, just make sure you follow the invoicing guidelines as above.
It may seem a lot to ask of the person doing the work for you but these days you just can’t be sure of how the government will react if they discover you have paid someone without adequate proof that they are registered to pay tax on their own profits.
For more information on the new CIS you can refer back to our blog post dated 25th August 2007 entitled ”What is the Construction Industry Scheme?”