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Find customs agent to help with import/export declarations

If you are moving goods to or from the UK, you need to ensure that you have all the correct procedures. This is a complex area, and you may need to consider the support of a customs agent to help with your import and/or export declarations.
Customs declarations can be complicated and time-consuming to complete.
Most businesses use a specialist such as a customs agent, broker, freight forwarder or fast parcel operator to submit import and export customs declarations on their behalf. HMRC publishes a regularly updated list of customs agents and short parcel operators who may help. The list is known as the register of customs agents and fast parcel operators. However, it should be noted that businesses on these lists are not vetted, approved or recommended by HMRC, and proper due diligence should be used in selecting an adviser from the list.
HMRC’s guidance is clear that if your goods do not have the proper paperwork or if the information is incorrect or missing, your interests may be seized, and you may face delays and have to pay extra charges.
If you are moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the free Trader Support Service can help guide you through the necessary processes. This service can also help businesses who import goods into Northern Ireland from the rest of the world. The use of this service is optional.

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Student tax scam warning

HMRC is warning new students starting university that they could be targeted by scammers trying to steal their money and personal details. As new students begin the academic year, they can be particularly vulnerable to tax scams. This is especially prevalent if they have a part-time job and are unique to interact with HMRC. This year, there is a significant increase in the number of students attending university, which means that more young people may choose to take on part-time work.
Many tax scams are directly targeting university students. Fraudulent emails and texts will regularly include links that take students to websites where their information can be stolen. Between April and May this year, 18- to 24-year olds reported more than 5,000 phone scams to HMRC.
These scams often offer fake tax refunds, which HMRC does not provide by SMS or email. Students can also be approached to act as ‘money mules’, with offers of various rewards for transferring funds through their own, open financial accounts, inadvertently laundering criminal funds.
Commenting on the warning, HMRC’s Head of Cyber Security Operations at HMRC said:
‘Our advice is to be wary if you are contacted out of the blue by someone asking for money or personal information. We see high numbers of fraudsters contacting people claiming to be from HMRC. If in doubt, our advice is – do not reply directly to anything suspicious, but contact HMRC through GOV.UK straight away and search GOV.UK for HMRC scams’.

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Government announces winter COVID plan

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has set out the government’s autumn and winter plan for managing Covid.

The government is aiming to sustain the progress made and prepare the country for future challenges while ensuring the National Health Service (NHS) does not come under unsustainable pressure.

The government plans to achieve this by:

  • Building our defences through pharmaceutical interventions: vaccines, antivirals and disease-modifying therapeutics.
  • Identifying and isolating positive cases to limit transmission: Test, Trace and Isolate.
  • Supporting the NHS and social care: managing pressures and recovering services.
  • Advising people on how to protect themselves and others: clear guidance and communications.
  • Pursuing an international approach: helping to vaccinate the world and managing risks at the border.
    This is known as Plan A. There are of course a number of variables that could change the expected outlook including the outbreak of new variants and other seasonal respiratory diseases such as the flu.

    If the data suggests the NHS is likely to come under unsustainable pressure, the government has prepared a Plan B for England. It is hoped that this plan will not be required but the plan contains certain measures which can help control transmission of the virus while seeking to minimise economic and social impacts.

    This includes:
  • Communicating clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased and with it the need to behave more cautiously.
  • Introducing mandatory vaccine-only COVID-status certification in certain settings.
  • Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings.
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Outdoor measures to be made permanent

Temporary measures that have given a massive boost to high streets and hospitality during the pandemic could be made permanent following a public consultation launched in September 2021.

From marquees being put up in pub grounds to street markets operating all year round, permitted development rights that have allowed people to enjoy al fresco dining and visit town centres and tourist attractions as the nation reopened from the pandemic.

These planning reforms also gave businesses and councils a lifeline to operate alongside the right to regenerate new licensing arrangements.

The government aims to make these permanent so that people can continue to enjoy outdoor hospitality and local attractions, and businesses can innovate as we build back better from the pandemic. In addition, the public will now be able to give their views on the proposed reforms to continue to benefit everyone in the future.

These changes will be welcomed by the hospitality trades badly affected by COVID restrictions.

Now we need good weather in the coming winter months so that affected traders can fully exploit these relaxations.

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Budget date announced

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has confirmed that the next UK Budget will take place on Wednesday, 27 October 2021. This will be the Chancellor’s third Budget and the first one to revert back to the Autumn Budget schedule interrupted by Brexit-related issues and then by the coronavirus pandemic. It means that this year, 2021, will see 2 Budget’s the first that took place in March and the second that has been scheduled for October.
Details of all the Budget announcements will be made in a special section of the GOV.UK website, which will update following the completion of the Chancellor’s speech in October.
The Budget will be published alongside the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). The OBR has executive responsibility for producing the official UK economic and fiscal forecasts, evaluating the government’s performance against its fiscal targets, assessing the sustainability of and risks to the public finances and scrutinising government tax and welfare spending.
The Chancellor also confirmed that 27 October 2021 will see the government spending plans set out under the Spending Review 2021. The three-year review will set UK government departments’ resource and capital budgets for 2022-23 to 2024-25 and the devolved administrations’ block grants for the same period.

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National Insurance increase to fund NHS and social care

The Prime Minister announced increases in National Insurance Contributions (NIC) of 1.25% from April 2022 to contribute to increases in the NHS and social care budgets.

The increases will apply to:

Class 1 contributions (paid by employees) – This is the NIC that is deducted from your earnings by your employer.
Class 4 (paid by self-employed). These contributions are added to your annual Self-Assessment statement.
Secondary Class 1 (paid by employers) – Employer’s NIC contributions are delivered as part of the regular PAYE/NIC payments unless the present £4,000 employment allowance covers them.
This increase will need to be factored into employers’ budgets from April 2022. However, self-employed persons will not see the impact of the growth until their Self-Assessment for 2022-2023 is completed.

From April 2023, HMRC will incorporate an increase into a new Levy. Existing NICs reliefs to support employers will apply to the Levy. Companies employing apprentices under the age of 25, all people under the age of 21, veterans and employers in Freeports will not pay the Levy for these employees as long as their yearly gross earnings are less than £50,270, or £25,000 for new Freeport employees. The Levy will be administered by HMRC and collected by the current channels for NICs – Pay As You Earn and Income Tax Self-Assessment. The Levy, including the temporary NICs increase in 2022, will be legislated for shortly.

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Claiming a tax refund

If you think that you have paid too much tax to HMRC you can usually claim back any overpaid tax. The exact method for making a claim depends on a number of factors including whether or not you complete a Self-Assessment return and the length of time that has passed since the tax was overpaid.

Claims can usually be backdated for up to four years after the end of the relevant tax year. This means that claims can still be made for tax refunds dating back as far as the 2017-18 tax year (which ended on 5 April 2018). The deadline for making claims for the 2017-18 tax year is 5 April 2022.

According to HMRC you may be able to claim a refund if you have paid too much tax on:

pay from your current or previous job
pension payments
income from a life or pension annuity
a redundancy payment
a Self-Assessment tax return
interest from savings or PPI
foreign income
UK income if you live abroad
fuel costs or work clothing for your job.
HMRC is currently undertaking the annual reconciliation of PAYE for the tax year 2020-21. HMRC use salary and pension information to calculate if the correct amount of tax has been paid. Where the incorrect amount of tax has been paid, HMRC use the P800 form to inform taxpayers. HMRC expects to send all P800 forms by the end of November 2021. The P800 will notify you if you have overpaid or underpaid tax.

If you need any assistance in understanding and checking a P800 form or making a claim for overpaid tax, we are here to help.

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Child benefit when child turns 16

Taxpayers entitled to the child benefit should be aware that HMRC usually stops paying child benefit on the 31 August on or after a child’s 16th Birthday. Under qualifying circumstances, the child benefit can continue until a child reaches their 20th birthday. A qualifying young person is someone aged 16,17, 18 or 19 in full-time non-advanced education or in approved training.

Some examples of full-time non-advanced education are:

A levels and other general academic qualifications of a similar standard, for example, Pre-U and the International Baccalaureate
T levels
Scottish Highers
NVQs and other vocational qualifications up to level 3
home education – if it started before your child turned 16 or after 16 if they have special needs
traineeships in England
A child would not qualify if entering advanced education such as a university degree or BTEC Higher National Certificate.

Approved training should be unpaid and can include:

Foundation Apprenticeships or Traineeships in Wales
Employability Fund programmes in Scotland
PEACE IV Children and Young People 2.1, Training for Success, or Skills for Life and Work in Northern Ireland
Any parents with children that remain in approved education or training should contact the child benefit office to ensure they continue receiving the child benefit payments to which they are entitled. No child benefit is payable after a young person reaches the age of 20 years.

The weekly rates of child benefit for the only or eldest child in a family is currently £21.05 and the weekly rate for all other children is £13.95.

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Using your Personal tax accounts

HMRC’s Personal tax accounts (PTAs) were launched in 2015. The service works as an online resource to allow taxpayers to review and update their details in real-time. For many routine requests and services using the PTA can help you avoid having to phone or write to HMRC.

Every individual in the UK that pays tax has a PTA, but taxpayers must sign up in order to access and use the service. This can be done using either the Government Gateway or a GOV.UK Verify account.

The following services are currently available on your PTA:

check your Income Tax estimate and tax code;
fill in, send and view a personal tax return;
claim a tax refund;
check your income from employment in the previous 5 years;
check how much Income Tax you paid in the previous 5 years;
check and manage your tax credits;
check your State Pension;
track tax forms that you’ve submitted online;
check or update your Marriage Allowance;
tell HMRC about a change of address;
check or update benefits you get from work, for example, company car details and medical insurance;
find your National Insurance number.
HMRC routinely adds more services to allow taxpayers to more fully manage their tax affairs online. The PTA is part of HMRC’s overriding strategy to move to fully digital tax service.

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1.8m couples benefit from extra tax relief

HMRC has confirmed that almost 1.8m couples across the UK have benefitted from the marriage allowance and are saving up to £252 a year. The marriage allowance is available to qualifying married couples and those in a civil partnership where a spouse or civil partner is a non-taxpayer i.e., has an income below their personal allowance (currently £12,570).

The marriage allowance allows the lower-earning partner to transfer up to £1,260 of their personal tax-free allowance to their spouse or civil partner. The 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 2021-22. The limits are slightly different if you live in Scotland.

If you are entitled to the marriage allowance and have not yet applied you could receive a payment of up to £1,220 from HMRC. HMRC is using the summer wedding season to remind couples to make a claim. It is estimated that whilst almost 1.8m couples have already claimed the Marriage Allowance, there are still in the region of 2 million eligible couples that have not made a claim.

If you meet the eligibility requirements and have not yet claimed the allowance you can backdate your claim to 6 April 2017. This could result in a total tax break of up to £1,220 for 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21 as well as the current 2021-22 tax year.

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