HMRC has announced that late filing penalties will be waived for taxpayers that file their 2020-21 Self-Assessment returns by 28 February 2022. The due date of 31 January 2022 remains and HMRC is still encouraging taxpayers to try and meet this deadline. Taxpayers should try and pay their tax bill by 31 January 2022 as interest will accrue from 1 February 2022 on any outstanding liabilities.
There had been concerns from Self-Assessment taxpayers and their agents for the government to soften its stance on late filing penalties in view of the continuing pandemic. The confirmation that no late filing penalty will be issued, giving one month’s grace has been broadly welcomed.
HMRC expects more than 12.2 million people to complete a Self-Assessment tax return for the 2020-21 and almost 6.5 million returns have already been submitted.
HMRC’s Deputy Chief Executive and Second Permanent Secretary, said:
'We know the pressures individuals and businesses are again facing this year, due to the impacts of COVID-19. Our decision to waive penalties for one month for Self-Assessment taxpayers will give them extra time to meet their obligations without worrying about receiving a penalty.'
There are also a number of options for taxpayers to defer payments due on 31 January 2022 and pay by instalments over 12 months. This includes using the self-serve Time to Pay facility online for debts up to £30,000 or by making an arrangement with HMRC.
In tandem with the announcement that no late filing penalties will be issued for 2020-21 Self-Assessment returns submitted by 28 February 2022, HMRC has also confirmed a delay in implementing late payment penalties. This means that taxpayers will not be charged a 5% late payment penalty if they pay their tax or set up a payment plan by midnight on 1 April 2022.
Under the normal rules a 5% late payment penalty would have been charged if tax remained outstanding or a payment plan has not been set up before 3 March 2022. This extension gives taxpayers an extra 4 weeks to sort out their affairs before the 5% late payment penalty is levied.
It is important to note that it is only the 5% penalty that is being waived. Interest will still be applied to any balance that was outstanding from 1 February 2022. The current rate of interest is 2.75%. The only way to stop further interest amassing is to pay any tax due in full.
Further late payment penalties will apply, with no extensions, if tax remains outstanding (and no payment plan has been set up) for more than 6 months after the 31 January filing deadline. From 1 August 2022 you will be charged a penalty of the greater of £300 or 5% of the tax due. If your return remains outstanding one year after the filing deadline, then further penalties will be charged from 1 February 2023.
The High Income Child Benefit charge applies to taxpayers whose income exceeds £50,000 in a tax year and who are in receipt of child benefit. The charge claws back the financial benefit of receiving child benefit either by reducing or removing the benefit entirely.
If you or your partner have exceeded the £50,000 threshold for the first time during the last tax year (2020-21) then you must act. Where both partners have an income that exceeds £50,000, the charge applies to the partner with the highest income.
Taxpayers who continue to receive child benefit (and earn over the relevant limits) must pay any tax owed for 2020-21 on or before 31 January 2022. The child benefit charge is charged at the rate of 1% of the full child benefit award for each £100 of income between £50,000 and £60,000. For taxpayers with income above £60,000, the amount of the charge will equal the amount of child benefit received.
If the High Income Child Benefit charge applies to you or your partner it is usually worthwhile to claim Child Benefit for your child, as it can help to protect your State Pension and will make sure your child receives a National Insurance number. However, you still have the choice:
- to keep receiving child benefit and pay the tax charge or
- elect to stop receiving child benefit and not pay the charge.
Businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.
An online payment plan for Self-Assessment tax bills can be used to set up instalment arrangements for paying tax liabilities up to £30,000. Taxpayers that qualify for a Time to Pay arrangement using the self-serve Time to Pay facility online, can do so without speaking to an HMRC adviser. The service will create a bespoke monthly payment plan based on how much tax is owed and the length of time needed to pay. The service was used by over 123,000 taxpayers for the 2019-20 tax year to spread the cost of over £460m in tax.
Taxpayers that want to use the online option for their 2020-21 tax return must meet the following requirements:
- have filed their tax return for the 2020-21 tax year
- owe less than £30,000
- be within 60 days of the payment deadline of 31 January 2022
- plan to pay their debt off within the next 12 months or less
Taxpayers with Self-Assessment tax payments that do not meet the above requirements need to contact HMRC to request a Time To Pay arrangement. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.
HMRC will usually offer taxpayers the option of extra time to pay if they think they genuinely cannot pay in full but will be able to pay in the near future. If HMRC do not think that more time will help, then they can require immediate payment of a tax bill and start enforcement action if payment is not forthcoming.
The 'badges of trade' tests whilst not conclusive are used by HMRC to help determine whether an activity is a proper economic trade / business activity or merely a money-making by-product of a hobby.
The approach by the courts in using the badges of trade has been to decide questions of trade on the basis of the overall impression gained from a review of all the badges.
HMRC will consider the following nine badges of trade as part of their overall investigation as to whether a hobby is actually a trade:
- Profit-seeking motive
- The number of transactions
- The nature of the asset
- Existence of similar trading transactions or interests
- Changes to the asset
- The way the sale was carried out
- The source of finance
- Interval of time between purchase and sale
- Method of acquisition
Even if HMRC consider that the activities in question are a trade, taxpayers can make up to £1,000 per year tax-free by claiming the trading allowance.
The rent-a-room scheme is a set of special rules designed to help homeowners who rent-a-room in their home. If you are using this scheme, you should ensure that rents received from lodgers during the current tax year do no exceed £7,500. The tax exemption is automatic if you earn less than £7,500 and there are no specific tax reporting requirements.
The relief only applies to the letting of furnished accommodation and is used when a bedroom is rented out to a lodger by homeowners. The relief also simplifies the tax and administrative burden for those with rent-a-room income up to £7,500. The limit is reduced by half if the income from letting accommodation in the same property is shared by a joint owner of the property.
The rent-a-room limit includes any amounts received for meals, goods and services provided, such as cleaning or laundry. If gross receipts are more than the limit, taxpayers can choose between paying tax on the actual profit (gross rents minus actual expenses and capital allowances) or the gross receipts (and any balancing charges) minus the allowance – with no deduction for expenses or capital allowances.
There are a number of reasons why you might need to complete a Self-Assessment return. This includes if you are self-employed, a company director, have an annual income over £100,000 and / or have income from savings, investment or property.
Taxpayers that need to complete a Self-Assessment return for the first time should inform HMRC as soon as possible. The latest date that HMRC should be notified is by 5 October following the end of the tax year for which a Self-Assessment return needs to be filed. If you have missed this deadline for the 2020-21 tax year you should still notify HMRC and register as soon as possible. You should also ensure that you file your 2020-21 tax return and pay any tax due by 31 January 2022.
In certain circumstances, HMRC may also ask taxpayers to complete tax returns. HMRC has an online tool www.gov.uk/check-if-you-need-tax-return/ that can help you check if you are required to submit a Self-Assessment return.
The list of taxpayers that are usually required to submit a Self-Assessment return includes:
- The self-employed;
- Taxpayers who had £2,500 or more in untaxed income;
- Those with savings or investment income of £10,000 or more before tax;
- Taxpayers who made profits from selling things like shares, a second home or other chargeable assets and need to pay Capital Gains Tax;
- Company directors – unless it was for a non-profit organisation (such as a charity) and you didn’t get any pay or benefits, like a company car;
- Taxpayers whose income (or that of their partner’s) was over £50,000 and one of you claimed Child Benefit;
- Taxpayers who had income from abroad that was taxable in the UK;
- Taxpayers who lived abroad and had a UK income;
- Income over £100,000.
The Gift Aid scheme is available to all UK taxpayers. The charity or Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASC) concerned can take your donation and, providing all the qualifying conditions are met, reclaim the basic rate tax. This increases the value of your donation by 25p for every pound donated.
If you are a higher rate or additional rate taxpayer, you are eligible to claim additional tax relief on the difference between the basic rate and your highest rate of tax.
If you donated £5,000 to charity, the total value of the donation to the charity is £6,250. You can claim back additional tax of:
- £1,250 if you pay tax at the higher rate of 40% (£6,250 × 20%),
- £1,562.50 if you pay tax at the additional rate of 45% (£6,250 × 25%).
If you are a higher rate or additional rate taxpayer you also have the option to carry back your charitable donations made in the current tax year, to the previous tax year.
A request to carry back the donation must be made before or at the same time as your previous year’s Self-Assessment return is completed.
This means that if you made a gift to charity in the current 2021-22 tax year that ends on 5 April 2022, you can accelerate repayment of any tax associated with your charitable giving. This can be a useful strategy to maximise tax relief if you will not pay higher rate tax in the current tax year but did in the previous tax year. This should be done as part of the Self-Assessment tax return for 2020-21 which must be submitted by 31 January 2022.
You can only claim if your donations qualify for gift aid. This means that your donations for both tax years together must not be more than 4 times what you paid in tax in the previous year. If you do not complete a tax return you need to use a P810 form to make a claim.
The marriage allowance came into force in 2015 and applies to married couples and those in a civil partnership where a spouse or civil partner doesn’t pay tax or doesn’t pay tax above the basic rate threshold for Income Tax (i.e., one of the couples must currently earn less than the £12,570 personal allowance for 2020-21).
The allowance works by permitting the lower earning partner to transfer up to £1,260 of their personal tax-free allowance to their spouse or civil partner. The marriage allowance can only be used when the recipient of the transfer (the higher earning partner) doesn’t pay more than the basic 20% rate of Income Tax. This would usually mean that their income is between £12,570 to £50,270 in 2020-21. The limits are somewhat different for those living in Scotland.
The allowance permits the lower earning partner to transfer up to £1,260 of their unused personal tax-free allowance to a spouse or civil partner. This could result in a saving of up to £252 for the recipient (20% of £1,260), or £21 a month for the current tax year.
If you meet the eligibility requirements and have not yet claimed the allowance, then you can backdate your claim as far back as 6 April 2017. This could result in a total tax break of up to £1,220 if you can claim for 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21 as well as the current 2021-22 tax year. If you claim now, you can backdate your claim for four years (if eligible) as well as for the current tax year. In fact, even if you are no longer eligible or would have been in all or any of the preceding years then you can claim your entitlement.
A tax calculation is created by HMRC if you have not paid the right amount of tax. HMRC’s annual reconciliation of PAYE for the tax year 2020-21 is now almost complete. HMRC use salary and pension information to calculate if you have paid the correct amount of tax.
The tax calculation is usually generated automatically by HMRC’s computer systems on what is known as a P800 form. P800s are generally sent out from after the end of the tax year and the process is generally completed by the end of November. The P800 form is also used if you have not paid enough tax so be sure to read the document carefully.
If you are due a refund, the P800 form will usually tell you that you can claim a refund online. Once you complete the claim online, the refund will be paid within 5 working days and will be in your UK account once your bank has processed the payment. If you do not claim the refund online within 45 days, HMRC will send you a cheque.
If your P800 tells you that you will be repaid by cheque, then you do not need to take any further action and you should receive a cheque within 14 days of the date on the P800 Tax Calculation.
If you have not received a P800 form but think that you have overpaid tax, you can contact HMRC to inform them. If HMRC agree that you are due a tax refund they will send you a P800 form.
If you complete a Self-Assessment return, then you should not expect to receive a P800 form as any underpayment or overpayment of tax will be handled by way of your tax return.