coronavirus

What the SEISS extension means for you

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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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Wednesday, August 5th, 2020 Economy, Jobs No Comments

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.

Plans for re-starting the economy

It has been a turbulent few months for many of us, with jobs being cut, furloughing schemes, working from home and closure of many businesses (small and large). Last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a number of measures which are designed to help us along the road to recovery. It is going to take several months (or even longer) and things may never quite be the same – but here are a few of the measures which have been announced:

A cut in VAT on hospitality – restaurants and hotels will see the VAT on their goods reduced from 20% to 5%. For consumers, it is possible that this will mean lower prices but businesses are under no obligation to pass this saving on. They may keep their prices the same and use the VAT saving to try to repair some of the damage caused by their enforced closure over the last few months, or to try to allow for fewer customers as social distancing regulations mean that they can’t seat as many people as before.

A temporary removal of stamp duty on house purchases under £500,000 – if you were planning to move house before March 2021, this may well save you a significant amount of money. Previously, any house sold for more than £125,000 attracted stamp duty (often thousands or tens of thousands of pounds) which the buyer had to pay on top of the purchase price. Until March of next year, the threshold has been increased to £500,000, in an attempt to encourage people to buy and re-energise the housing market.

A bonus paid to employers who retain furloughed employees – if an employer keeps an employee who was furloughed on the payroll until the end of January 2021, they will be eligible for a one-off £1000 bonus. This is to encourage employers to keep people on and prevent unemployment, even if business doesn’t pick up immediately now that lockdown has been loosened.

There were several schemes announced which are intended to encourage employers to employ 16-24 year olds.

A full run-down of the measures announced is available from the BBC.

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Wednesday, July 15th, 2020 Economy, Jobs No Comments

New pension options

A while ago, I considered adding an option to the calculator allowing you to enter the amount in £ that you contribute each month, rather than the percentage. I thought this would be useful for people whose employers didn’t use their salary as the basis for the pension contributions but instead “pensionable pay” or something similar. I never got round to it because I thought it was too much of a niche and would make the calculator too confusing. However, the current Coronavirus situation with people being put on furlough made me realise that more people would be affected by this than usual, so I have added this option.

I had an email from a visitor to the site who said that his pension contributions in furlough were based on his full salary, not his reduced, furlough pay. As such, the percentage he was entering was giving the wrong deduction when applied to the reduced pay. To combat this, I have now added the option to switch from a percentage input to a £ input. Enter the amount you contribute, choose the pay period, select what kind of pension you have, and then the calculator will use this amount as your pension contribution. To make this even easier, on the Furlough Calculator you can enter the percentage as usual but tick the “Don’t reduce pension” option, in which case the calculator will automatically apply the pension contributions from your full salary to your reduced salary.

People who contribute to a personal pension (i.e., not through their employer) might also find it easier to use the £ amount option, as it may be easier than calculating the percentage.

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Wednesday, May 20th, 2020 About The Salary Calculator, Pensions No Comments

New option – reduced pay

With the coronavirus outbreak affecting businesses around the country, a number of employers have had to make the decision to ask staff not to come in to work. The government announced last week that, to encourage employers not to lay staff off, they will pay up to 80% (to a maximum £2,500 per month) of staff members’ salaries if they keep them on the payroll. As well as trying to ensure that employees still receive some pay, the plan is to keep the workers available so the economy is well placed to start up again once the virus threat is reduced.

I have added an option to the existing Pro-Rata Calculator which allows you to enter a percentage of salary instead of reduced hours. Some employers will continue to pay their employees the full amount during the pandemic, others may only be able to pay what they are receiving from the government. And of course, for other reasons you might be receiving a percentage reduction in salary. If this applies to you, enter your full-time salary and full-time hours, then enter the percentage of your salary that you will be receiving. With tax and pension deductions etc taken into account, you might find that the reduction is not quite as bad as you thought. For example, someone on the UK median full-time salary (which is about £30,000) normally takes home £1,915 per month after tax and 5% auto-enrolment pension contributions. On 80% salary, they would take home £1,595, which is a significant drop but still just over 83% of normal. Other deductions like Student Loan repayment could make the overall reduction to a slightly more manageable 85%.

Also of interest might be the new Sick Pay Calculator, which I launched last week to help people who have had to take a short period of time off on reduced pay.

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New tool – Sick Pay Calculator

With many people having to take time off work due to the current situation with COVID-19, I thought I would try to create a sick pay calculator. If you will be taking time off, and your employer’s policy states that you will receive reduced (or no) pay for your time off, the Sick Pay Calculator will try to estimate the effect on your take-home pay.

You can enter the number of days on a percentage of your normal pay (e.g. 50% for half pay), the number of days on Statutory Sick Pay (n.b. the calculator is not able to tell whether or not you are eligible for SSP, learn more from Citizens Advice), and the number of unpaid days. The calculator will use this information to estimate how your payslip will change.

Please note that different employers calculate things like unpaid leave in different ways, so the calculator’s results may differ from those on your payslip. Also, how much you will get paid for time off depends primarily on what your employer’s relevant policies state – you will need to know what you are entitled to before using the calculator.

Please let me know if you have any trouble using the calculator – I’ve tried to reduce the number of unexpected results, but it is possible with a lot of time off and with many options such as pensions and student loans applied that the answers given might be a bit unusual!

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