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Tax news in brief

24 November: Highlights from the broader tax news this week includes: HMRC begins checks on 'Eat Out' scheme payments, no clarity on Budget date, government guidance for staff dealing with social security applications post-Brexit and gender pay gap reporting when employees have been furloughed.

HMRC starts checks on “Eat out” scheme payments

HMRC is writing to businesses where its records suggest that they may have made an incorrect claim under the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. The COVID support scheme ran throughout August and provided firms with up to £10 per diner to enable them to offer up to 50% discount on food on specific weekdays.

More than 84,000 firms participated in the scheme and now HMRC is approaching around 4,000 to check that their claims are correct. If claimants do not respond to the letter within 60 days HMRC can start a formal compliance check. This could result in the business having to pay statutory interest and penalties. Find out more.

No clarity on Spring 2021 Budget date

It has been reported that Sir Tom Scholar, Permanent Secretary at HM Treasury, confirmed that the Budget will be held in March 2021 during a Public Accounts Committee meeting. However, the transcript of the meeting includes an exchange that makes it clear that the Budget date is far from certain.

When asked if he was “100% sure” the Budget would occur in March, Sir Scholar replied: “There has to be a Budget before the end of the financial year because otherwise the government cannot continue to raise income tax. There will certainly be a Budget. I said March, but no date has been announced. Typically, spring Budgets end up being in March. I can’t confirm that it is March and not February, or indeed the very beginning of April, but there has to be a Budget before the end of the financial year.”

Government publishes staff guide on EU social security coordination

As part of its aim to ensure transparency, the UK government has published the post-Brexit guidance it has created for staff involved with applications for social security and pensions. The 74-page document has been created for staff at HMRC, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health and Social Care and explains the effect of the Withdrawal Agreement on social security coordination. It outlines needs to be considered from 1 January 2021 when dealing with an application from a UK national living in the European Economic Area or Switzerland, or from an EEA or Swiss national living in the UK. Read the guidance.

Furlough and gender pay gap reporting

The Government Equalities Office has confirmed which furloughed employees should be included and which should be excluded from gender pay gap calculations. Read guidance from CIPP.