What Help is Available from HMRC for Businesses During Coronavirus?

As the COVID-19 pandemic shakes the world’s public health and economy, it leaves small business owners, freelancers and the self-employed searching for as much support as possible.

The government have responded with a series of schemes, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, both of which have been well documented in the media. If you’re worrying about other help might be available, HMRC does have a few more tricks up it’s sleeve. Let’s take a look.

Delaying payment deadlines

Looming HMRC deadlines can fill any business owner or self-employed worker with terror at the best of times. Throw in an economic crisis mix, and finding the funds to pay your tax bill takes on a whole other dimension of horror.

Fortunately HMRC recognises that COVID-19 is placing budgets and cash-flow under enormous strain, and has extended some payment deadlines.

  • VAT payments due before 30th June 2020 have now been delayed until March 2021
  • Self Assessment payments on account due in July 2020 have now been pushed back until 31st January 2021

Unfortunately, no mention has been made of extending deadlines for Corporation Tax.

Expansion of the Time to Pay service

HMRC has also expanded the Time to Pay scheme. This gives a bit of extra breathing space to those who can’t pay their taxes as a direct result ofcCoronavirus.

Take heed, though, that it’s important to let HMRC know before the payment is due. An arrangement under this capacity is essentially a debt repayment plan for those unable to met payment deadlines on Corporation Tax, VAT and PAYE.

Those making an application to request this relief will now normally be given 6-12 months to repay what they owe – and in some cases even longer.

A proposal for a Time to Pay arrangement should include details around:

  • Profit forecasts
  • Demonstration of cost-cutting
  • A loose plan which shows determination to meet repayments
  • Previous compliance with taxes and deadlines
  • Proving you aren’t in the high risk business category

The HMRC coronavirus helpline

Understandably, HMRC are buried under an avalanche of questions from confused business owners and stressed out self-employed workers.

To meet this demand, HMRC has set up a dedicated helpline purely servicing those who are looking for information on Coronavirus-related support.

The number for this helpline was recently changed to 0800 024 1222 to meet growing demand and all calls to the previous 030 number will now be redirected there. Opening hours are 8am-4pm Monday-Friday.

A dedicated COVID-19 webchat

If you do call the HMRC Coronavirus helpline, you won’t be surprised to find that there is a longer wait than normal to speak to an operator. If hold music is too much for your blood pressure levels to bear, there’s always the COVID-19 webchat team.

This online chat team have been drafted in to answer specific questions around Corporation Tax, Self-Assessment, Employers PAYE and VAT relating to Coronavirus only. HMRC notes that they won’t be able to direct you to any other webchat teams so just make sure you’re in the right place first.

Elizabeth Hughes

A content writer specialising in business, finance, software, and beyond. I'm a wordsmith with a penchant for puns and making complex subjects accessible.

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