The Government giveth, and the Government taketh away – or so it seems. Most COVID support grants paid out by central govenment or though local authorities over the last couple of years are treated as taxable income in the same way as other taxable receipts and need to be reported to HMRC. The grants should be treated as income where the business submits an Income Tax or Corporation Tax return.
This treatment extends to support measures including the following:
- the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
- test and trace or self-isolation payments
- the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
- Eat Out to Help Out
- Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate
- Coronavirus Business Support Grants
HMRC’s guidance is clear that whether or not any tax is paid will depend on the business profits of the grant recipient (taking into account the grant and other business income and expenditure under normal tax rules), any other taxable income they may have and their personal and any other allowances to which they are entitled.
HMRC also has the power to recover payments and charge penalties when claimants have made support grant claims to which they were not entitled, and there is evidence that they are starting to check claims and question recipients where they believe they were not entitled to claim.
There is no requirement to report personal COVID welfare payments made by a council, such as those to help with council tax payments and housing benefit.
Loans, such as Bounce Back Loans or those from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), are not COVID-19 support payments as you will eventually be repaying them to the lender.
For HMRC’s full guidance on this topic, go to the HMRC website or contact Burton Sweet if you would like further advice on this.