Thousands of companies that made claims under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme but didn’t keep proper records will be the first to be investigated by HMRC, says leading tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg.
“HMRC are investigating widespread fraud and are looking into thousands of claims that were made under the scheme and, unfortunately, businesses that did not keep proper records are the ones that are being scrutinised the most," notes Fiona Fernie, Tax Dispute Resolution Partner.
“Most have probably done nothing wrong, but a lack of records will cause suspicion and companies who have made claims or are going to do so under the extended scheme need to check both past and future claims and keep detailed records supporting those claims so that they can provide appropriate evidence if HMRC queries them," she explained.
“Within days of the first ‘amnesty’ deadline passing for repayment of amounts overclaimed under the CJRS, HMRC have already swung into action investigating claims where they believe that employers have claimed the wrong amount or were ineligible to claim,” says Fernie.
“The deadline for making the repayments was 20 October 2020 in respect of claims received prior to 22 July 2020 and for claims received after that date the deadlines for making repayments of amounts incorrectly claimed are 90 days after receipt of the funds. It is therefore vital that employers continue to check historical CJRS claims to ensure both the numerical accuracy of the claims and that they were justified in making them since the more of these deadlines are missed the greater the likelihood of HMRC imposing significant penalties."
“With the extension of the scheme until 31 March 2021, and the increased flexibility of the scheme, it is important that both employers and employees are fully aware of the parameters within which the scheme operates, and ensure they are compliant,” continues Fernie.
“Mistakes in past claims should be corrected as soon as possible and great care should be taken in making future claims. Whilst not looking to punish honest mistakes too harshly, all amounts overclaimed will be repayable and HMRC will come down heavily on those who abuse the system.”
“It is imperative that businesses keep specific records and those required by HMRC include:
“However,” adds Fernie, “it would also be sensible to have records such as:
“Arguably it would also make sense to have records demonstrating the reduction in workload for those who are flexibly furloughed, to support the rationale for the claims,” concludes Ferenie
More at: W: www.blickrothenberg.com
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