In light of the current situation with Covid-19, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has made a few changes to the Job Support Scheme, so the government is providing more support than they originally planned.

The minimum number of hours which have to be worked to qualify for the scheme has been reduced from 33% of normal hours to 20% of normal hours. The employer’s contribution has been reduced from 33% of the unworked hours to 5% of the unworked hours, and the government contribution has been increased to 62% of the unworked hours (from 33%). This more generous scheme makes a huge difference to small businesses who were worried they would be unable to meet the costs from 1st November. However, it does reduce the minimum amount an employee can be paid from 77% to 73% of their full salary (this is only the case if the number of hours worked is below 33%).

The Salary Calculator’s furlough calculator has been updated with these latest figures.

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None of the content on this website, including blog posts, comments, or responses to user comments, is offered as financial advice. Figures used are for illustrative purposes only.

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The paper return deadline is this month, 31st October, therefore we thought it would be useful to invite Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to explain how best to prepare for the Self-Assessment tax return submission and file with confidence.

New comers to submitting Self-Assessment tax returns, should know it pays to know that there are three ways of filing. Firstly, you can submit via the HMRC site and receive instant acknowledgement post-submission. You can also use commercial software to do this for you. Or, you can send a paper tax return to HMRC in the post.

Whichever method you choose, it’s important to understand your exact responsibility. For those who are self-employed sole traders or Landlords letting out UK property, paper submissions can be complicated as they involve additional forms and documentation.

1. Be conscious of the deadline

Should you choose to file a paper tax return, don’t forget to file before the 31st October deadline. We would recommend sending your paper submission prior to the October deadline, either through recorded delivery or with some proof of posting in order to prove your compliancy.

If you miss the deadline for submitting your paper return, don’t be tempted to file it late – you have until 31st January to complete one online. Just don’t submit both. You will be charged penalties from the 1st February for any late submissions.

2. Organise supplementary pages

Remember, it isn’t enough to submit the main SA100 tax return. You need to bundle it together with the rest of your documentation that references your property or self-employment income.

For any income as a landlord, all that’s required is to file an additional form (SA105) and submit it alongside your regular Self-Assessment tax return.

However, with self-employment, the additional sections required of you could be either the SA103S or the SA103F. The difference between the two is that the former is for those who had an annual turnover below the VAT threshold for the tax year (£85,000 as of 2019/20), and the latter is for those who earn above the VAT threshold.

3. Be open to online and prepare for Making Tax Digital for Income Tax

While you may have historically always submitted your tax return by paper, the vast majority of tax returns are now submitted online. Improvements in technology and the extra three months to file are the main incentives to submit an online tax return.

Having an online account with HMRC allows you to not only extend your filing deadline but also check your details at any time to see how much tax is due and act accordingly.

If you’re happy to tweak the way in which you keep your records and adopt digital record-keeping, this will help minimise admin further, as well as enable you to submit your tax returns and automatically calculate your tax.

Going forward as of April 2023 you will have to file your self-assessment digitally to HMRC providing updates every quarter via your digital platform.

Preparation is key, adopt the right approach now it could save both time and money, make the move to digital ahead of the deadline for MTD for Income Tax.

About GoSimpleTax

GoSimpleTax software submits directly to HMRC and is the solution for self-employed sole traders and anyone with income outside of PAYE to log all their income and expenses. The software will provide you with hints and tips that could save you money on allowances and expenses you may have missed.

Trial the software today for free – add up to five income and expense transactions per month and see your tax liability in real time at no cost to you. Pay only when you are ready to submit or use other key features such as receipt uploading.

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Note: An earlier version of this post contained old percentages – the post was updated (on 22nd October 2020) to reflect new percentages

From 1st November 2020, the furlough scheme introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being replaced by the Job Support Scheme. This scheme is designed to encourage employers to bring employees back to work part time if possible. The Salary Calculator has been updated to allow you to estimate what effect this will have on your take home pay.

If you work 20% or more of your normal full time hours, some of your “missing” pay for the hours not worked is subsidised by the government. Your employer will pay 5% of the unworked hours, the government will pay 62% of the unworked hours, and the remaining third of unworked hours is unpaid. This does require your employer to pay you for work you are not doing, but the plan is to help people get back to work rather than losing their jobs. If you work a third of your hours, you will receive 77% of your normal pay – slightly below the 80% offered by the furlough scheme. The government contribution is capped at £1,541.75 per month.

To see what effect this might have on your take home pay, check out the Pro Rata Salary Calculator – you can either enter reduced weekly hours, or a percentage of your full time hours – just remember to tick the “Job Support Scheme” box to see what a difference it will make.

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In the early stages of lockdown, the government announced support for sole traders in the form of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, or SEISS.

Just a month after its announcement, 2 million claims were made, totalling £6.1 billion in government support. And now, with a second grant opening in August 2020, a number of sole traders are set to benefit from further financial assistance.

We’ve asked Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax to explain the terms and help you claim.

How does SEISS work?

The scheme is available to all self-employed individuals that have been adversely affected by COVID-19. This is provided that they:

  • Earn the majority of their income through self-employment
  • Have average annual trading profits of less than £50,000
  • Have filed a tax return for the 2018/19 tax year
  • Have traded during the 2019/20 tax year and intend to continue trading in 2020/21

To determine whether or not you were affected by COVID-19, any of the following must apply:

  • Government orders have meant that your trade or industry had to close or be restricted in such a way that your trade closed – or is otherwise adversely affected
  • You cannot organise your work, or your workplace, to allow staff to work safely
  • Your staff or customers are no longer able to purchase from you due to restrictions
  • Social distancing has meant that you are not able to safely serve customers
  • You’ve had contracts cancelled as a result of COVID-19
  • You have either had to care for others since lockdown or have been self-isolating

The first grant ended on 13th July 2020, and claimants could receive either £7,500 or 80% of their average monthly profits over the 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 tax years (whichever is the lower amount). Applications for the second grant will open on 17th August 2020, but you must have confirmed by 14th July 2020 that you have been adversely affected by COVID-19.

Why is there a phase two?

While the government set a three-month cap on the support, it has since been agreed that  COVID-19 is still impacting the earnings of some sole traders. As a result, it is necessary for them to receive another grant in order to stay afloat.

It will also help to support those who may not have initially been affected by lockdown (and so did not claim the first grant) but have subsequently suffered a loss of business.

What’s the difference? 

The differences between phase one and two are limited, although the second grant will be worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits. It’ll still be paid out in a single instalment that covers three months’ worth of profits, but will be capped at £6,750 total – almost £1,000 less than the phase one grant.

Additionally, you can only claim the second grant if your business was adversely affected on or after 14th July.

Can I continue working and still claim? 

Yes, you can continue to work as long as you intend to continue trading in 2020/21 in the self-employed role you’re claiming for. You can even take up other employment if necessary, provided that the SEISS payments still cover the majority of your income. HMRC will not penalise you for topping up your income with a little additional earnings to sustain your household.

Phase two will have a deadline of 19th October 2020. You can find out more about it on the GOV.UK site. If you are still losing out on income or opportunities to earn, we massively recommend you claim the second grant. This is unprecedented levels of government support and could make the difference between staying afloat or falling behind.

About GoSimpleTax

Right now, you can’t afford to be careless with your Self Assessment tax return. And with GoSimpleTax’s free trial, you don’t need to be. Their cloud-based software enables you to take stock of your earnings in real time, meaning you can get a complete overview of your tax obligations for the year. Once you’re certain all your affairs are in order, upgrade your account for just £46 and file your tax return with complete confidence.

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You may remember that a short while ago, I added a calculator for sick pay and unpaid leave. It was natural for me to consider the effects of maternity / paternity pay, too, as this can have a similar effect on your take-home pay – and Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Sick Pay are calculated in quite similar ways. I have now added this option to the maternity pay salary calculator.

You will notice that this is the same calculator – the Sick Pay Calculator has been expanded to include statutory parental pay as an option. If you will be taking some maternity or paternity leave, you can estimate the effect on your payslip by entering the details of your salary, days per week that you work, and how many days in the pay period you will be taking as leave. If your employer offers some of your leave at full pay then you don’t need to enter these days. If you are receiving some leave at 90% pay (you are normally entitled to this for the first 6 weeks of maternity leave) then use the % pay fields to handle those days. And for any days in the pay period that you will be receiving Statutory Maternity (or Paternity) Pay, currently £151.20 per week, use the Statutory Parental Leave field.

Important note! All calculations provided are estimates and indicative only. Different employers have different leave policies (for sick pay and for parental pay), they also calculate leave in different ways. You may not be entitled to statutory pay. The calculator does not know what you are entitled to, only what you have entered. If you are paid monthly, or have an irregular work schedule, Statutory Pay can fluctuate from pay period to pay period, which the calculator does not allow for. More information about maternity pay is available from Gov.UK.

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