Weekly tax brief | 15 April 2020

Coronavirus boost to digital services tax could help pay for PPE
George Bull
Following the coronavirus lockdown, video-streaming and gaming are contributing to the sharp increase in daytime data consumption. We estimate that for every week of lockdown the yield of the new UK digital services tax will increase by £2.7 million above initial Treasury figures. At today’s inflated prices, that will pay for 250,000 boxes of 100 medical gloves every single week.

Employers with no PAYE online account may suffer delayed payment of vital furlough grant
Susan Ball
New Government guidance makes it clear that, to claim the furlough grant when the portal opens by the end of April, organisations need a PAYE online account. This is not as simple as it sounds: many companies will have to set it up and then wait 10 days for the access codes. Employers relying on bureaux or agents could find those don’t have the right access to do this for them. Act now to minimise the risk that vital payments will be delayed.

What happens if the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not extended beyond 31 May? 
Carolyn Brown
Government has not given any indication of what will happen to the retention scheme beyond 31 May 2020. Should companies which may need to consider redundancies take action this week

Charities and government coronavirus support: what is the tax and VAT position?
Graham Batty
There has been lack of clarity on tax and VAT payments on current government measures that can support charities. However, first principles apply, and the retention scheme grants can only be used to pay tax deductible wages. But beware: there may be an unexpected VAT effect.

Coronavirus – deferment extension to duty and import VAT payments
Sarah Halsted
HMRC announced on Good Friday that the payment of duty and import VAT due via duty deferment accounts on 15 April 2020 can be delayed, subject to a financial hardship test. 

Import VAT and duty freeze on medical supplies and emergency export controls on PPE
Philip Munn and Brad Ashton
Two welcome announcements from HMRC help support our frontline workers get vital supplies.

In National Pet Month, who would have thought the VAT rules around food for our beloved pets could be so complicated? 
Ian Brown
While human snacks have the infamous cake-versus-biscuit arguments for jaffa cakes and VAT, pet foods have their own equivalent: are they for a ‘pet’ or a ‘working’ animal?