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Coronavirus: Eligibility dates changed for CJRS

The “on the payroll” date for employees to be included in a claim for the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) has been extended from 28 February to 19 March 2020, but there are further conditions to meet.  

16th Apr 2020
Tax Writer Taxwriter Ltd
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Update, 20 April, 9:30am - The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme portal went live for business claimants at 8am this morning. After the first hour, HMRC chief told Radio 4's Today programme it has processed 67,000 claims in first hour. A number of AccountingWEB members were up early to get their claims, with  in before the rush. Wanderer helpfully supplied the link above and in spite of a long-winded, 14-screen sequence and a number of technical anomalies, gordonb reported at 07:34: “I have just submitted two claims with no problem, apart from it being a bit time consuming.” 

More details of the portals and related issues will fllow shortly.

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After much confusion about exactly what “on the payroll” meant for claiming the CJRS grant, the Treasury has changed the cut-off date for the furloughed employees to be on the employer’s payroll as at 19 March 2020.

However, the second condition for the CJRS announced on 15 April is that the details of those furloughed employees must have been reported to HMRC on an RTI submission by 19 March 2020. Thus, the last effective date an employee could join the payroll and be included in a CJRS grant application could be much earlier than 19 March. It depends when the employer submitted the FPS for the pay period.

RTI returns

The FPS must have been received by HMRC by midnight on 19 March for anyone paid in 2019/20 to be able to be included in the CJRS claim. For example an employee with a start date of 24 February whose details were not reported under RTI until 26 March is excluded from the claim, whereas an employee who started on 19 March and was reported on that day with earnings for March 2020 will be eligible to be included in the CJRS claim.

The employer must have an active PAYE scheme to apply for the CJRS grant and this must have been set up by 19 March 2020. This is another change from the initial guidance which said the PAYE scheme had to be set up by 28 February.   

Pay period

The employer can claim 80% of the furloughed employee’s wages, subject to a cap of £2,500 per month. The original guidance said this salary should be that in place as 28 February 2020, but the new guidance refers to the last pay period that ended prior to 19 March 2020. For monthly paid employees that reference date is likely to be around 28 February, but for weekly payrolls it will be different.

HMRC has helpfully said that if the employer has already calculated its CJRS claim based on an employee’s salary at 28 February, this calculation can still be used even if the employee’s salary had changed by 19 March.

Re-employed redundant employees

The policy for employees who were made redundant and then re-employed by the same employer has also changed.

If an employee had been notified to HMRC as being on the payroll as of 28 February, was then made redundant or stopped working for the employer before 19 March, they can be included in a CJRS claim if they have been re-employed by the same employer and furloughed. The re-employment date can be after 19 March if the person was identified as an employee of the employer in an RTI submission made by 28 February 2020.   

Portal open

HMRC has assured accountants and employers in emails that the CJRS portal to submit claims will open on Monday 20 April 2020, but the CJRS guidance still refers to this service opening by “the end of April”. We understand that this is an oversight and HMRC are determined to launch the CJRS claims portal on 20 April.

The latest HMRC email to employers also says that the grants will be paid out to employers within six working days of the receipt of a claim. This is an improvement on the initial guidance which said the money would start to be paid out from 30 April.

How the cut-off was set

When the CJRS was first announced on 20 March it was stated that it would only apply to the pay of employees “on the payroll” on 28 February.

HMRC needs to draw a line to prevent fraudulent claims from being made. If the eligibility date was set as a date after the scheme was announced unscrupulous employers could set up a PAYE scheme with fictional employees to take advantage of the grant. HMRC will compare the employees’ details in the CJRS claim to RTI reports already submitted by the employer, thus ensuring that no money is paid out for fictional employees.    

Replies (89)

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By TMK Accounts
16th Apr 2020 18:39

One of my clients had a new employee start on 2nd March. The employee is paid monthly and was included on the usual monthly FPS on 26th March. So yes she was "on" the payroll on the 19th March but the first FPS that included her details, including her start date, was submitted on the 26th March. The client wants to furlough her from 20th April. Surely the contractual start date is the most important thing here not when the payroll was processed?

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Replying to TMK Accounts:

The Chancellor of the Exchequer and U.K. Government state that they wish to embrace the whole population of the country and that they appreciate that gaps still occur within the measures to assist self-employed, employers and employees given the speed that the measures have been introduced during the pandemic. They go on to state that they will continually review and update these measures appropriately which is pleasing.
An employee started work for a new employer on 6th March 2020, was placed on unpaid leave on 21st March 2020 and was paid on the month end payroll on 31st March 2020 for the work carried out during the period from 6th to 20th March.
This employee was on the payroll of the new employer during the month of March but not eligible to be placed on CJRS of the new employer, as the employee was not on a FPS on 28th February 2020 or on any other FPS up to 19th March 2020 of the new employer.
It may also be noted that the employee had worked for a previous employer over a period of eight years, having left at the beginning of March 2020 and was on the previous employers FPS on 28th February 2020.
To date this employee, a taxpayer for many years, has currently no source of income as they are outside of the CJRS.
The CJRS still needs further updating to cover these gaps.

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Replying to Colin Tyrone James McCrea BA FCCA MCMI:
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By djtax
20th Apr 2020 13:57

I agree that the supposed extension is meaningless for almost anyone joining a monthly payroll between 1 and 19 March. It will also disenfranchise some who joined very late Feb, who will often miss the Feb cut off and not go on the Feb pay run - only on March (which then picks up the few odd days from end Feb). I suspect it is an unintended problem simply due to HMRC lack of understanding any of the practicalities of payroll.

I have raised this issue last week with the CIOT, my local MP, Rishi and Boris and the national press. So far only a (meaningless) reply from my MP who has clearly completely missed the point I was raising (nothing new there) telling me there has to be a cut off for CJRS to prevent fraudulent claims for non existent personnel - as if HMRC did not already have vast powers of investigation to uncover/prosecute such offences. Surely HMRC can easily check the end March RTI submission to review and validate genuine new employees who started at the critical time before 19 March?

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Replying to djtax:
By TMK Accounts
20th Apr 2020 15:36

Absolutely - they have the start date of an employee on the March monthly RTI!

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Replying to TMK Accounts:
By TMK Accounts
22nd Apr 2020 09:49

I'm on the Accounting Web Q&A live webinar and asked this question regarding using the submitted start date rather than the RTI submission date. Kate Upcraft said there are no plans for the lobbying of Government and this rule is unlikely to be updated. Anyone else have any news on this issue which is related to the annual directors scheme?

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Replying to TMK Accounts:
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By stigers
22nd Apr 2020 10:35

IMO they need to change their plans, this "error" in the portal will impact thousands of director only clients that are relying on furlough as their only source of support!

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By happyface
16th Apr 2020 20:44

It is totally unfair that employees who are employed within the date should be penalised on this technicality on submission of RTI rather than contractual start date. Employers would only submit the RTI and hence new employees' details at the end of their pay period rather than submitting on start date or an arbitrarily set up date of 19/3/2020 resulting to genuinely employed people are not allowed to be furloughed.
The updated guidance promoted a extension of 19/3/2020 but in effect, due to the RTI condition, makes the effective date before 28/2/2020. Example is a 4 weekly pay run from 22/2/2020. An employee started 22/2/2020 will only have RTI submitted on 21/3/2020, hence disqualifying him/her from being included in furlough. This is more SPIN from the government more interested in looking good than actually helping.

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Replying to happyface:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
17th Apr 2020 11:34

So for the vast majority of monthly and four-week cycle payrolls the "concession" of extending the employee start date from 28th February to 19th March is indeed meaningless SPIN.

The reality for most is that, at best, the start date for eligible employees remains 28th February; and, worst case, has been set-back a week or so:

for four-weekly cycle payrolls, as in your example above, a payroll run / RTI with a filing date of Friday 20th March means a new employee will have needed to have commenced that employment by 21st February (in order to have featured on February's RTI submission);

similarly, for monthly payrolls, an employee paid on say the third Friday of every month (so RTI due by Fri 20th March) would also need to have been on the payroll by Friday 21st February (in order to have featured on the 21st February RTI).

In summary, HMRC have effectively shaved anything up to a week from their original 28th February employment deadline!

Given the current penchant for various over-zealous government organisations to (mis-)interpret government guidelines - and I'm thinking here of policemen moving us along from benches or checking our shopping-trolleys for "essentials", not to mention the Department of Health and Social Care's apparent under-reporting of Covid-19 related deaths by excluding those who have been discharged from hospital or who otherwise die elsewhere - I wonder whether this latest HMRC post as to who might claim could be based on nothing more than an over-optimistic interpretation. Does anyone have access to the legislation, I wonder?

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An employee whose start date was 1st March 2020 and paid weekly is now eligible for CJRS.
An employee whose start date was 1st March 2020 and paid monthly is not currently eligible for CJRS.
This unintended inequality needs to be addressed and remedied by the U.K.Government/Chancellor/HMRC, which I am sure they will promptly.

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By smdavies
17th Apr 2020 09:45

Director Annual Payroll Schemes

This additional requirement of having to make an RTI submission by 19 March 2020, appears to prohibit director only companies on an annual payroll scheme from making any claim where their 2019/20 annual RTI submission is made after 19 March 2020.

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Replying to smdavies:
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By philaccountant
17th Apr 2020 11:15

We're wondering about this too. Is the HMRC system really going to be sophisticated enough to reject claims based on an RTI submission date? It seems it would make an already complicated process much more prone to error.

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Replying to philaccountant:
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By smdavies
17th Apr 2020 11:36

Agreed, this late addition of an RTI submission date and the way it is worded, seems to be a very crass provision which has not been fully thought through. Our intended approach at present is to make the claim for an annual payroll with post 19 March RTI submission and appeal any rejection at that stage (once the processes become clearer), and hope that this at least gives this matter some attention.

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Replying to smdavies:
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By notaguru
21st Apr 2020 11:50

"Our intended approach at present is to make the claim for an annual payroll with post 19 March RTI submission and appeal any rejection at that stage"

Thanks for your post, it's very helpful. When I went on it said "not eligible" so where are you going to appeal?

I am not an accountant and am a Director on annual Payroll doing this myself. I did the following which means I cannot claim retention scheme. NB I'm using HMRC Basic PAYE Tools

1. I did the annual submission as at end of year 05/04/2020
2. Then I submitted the "Final submission for tax year"
3. I have NOT changed Tax years yet to 2020/2021 on Basic PAYE Tools

I'm unsure if I should:
1. Rollback Basic PAYE Tools and do the single annual payment on 05/02/2020 to comply with before March 19th rule, then do final submission and change tax year in Basic Payee Tools....or

2. Change Tax year to current year in Basic PAYE Tools (this locks everything I think) and Do an Earlier Year Update and date payment to February 05/02/2020, thus complying with the Retention Scheme.

3. Do nothing and accept I'm falling through the cracks?

Any thoughts most welcome.

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Replying to notaguru:
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By smdavies
21st Apr 2020 12:22

At the time of the orginal post the platform was not live and it was not clear whether a separate appeal process would be included. We have subsequently noted that ALL annual payrolls are deemed not eligible (rejected) irrespective of the RTI submission date. We have raised a query with HMRC with a standard response call back from the techinical team within 48 hours (as of 8am 21/04/2020). In answer to what you should do I would suggest that any of the options quoted will not change the result at this stage. I will post more as I know more.

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Replying to notaguru:
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By Jack123
23rd Apr 2020 13:05

I think any roll back will have a current RTI submission date and will not get round the 19/03/2020 cut off date.

A colleague of mine who has a number of long serving directors on annual schemes, who processed his March payrolls on 24th March, had the same failed rejection message when he tried to submit a claim. This is the case notwithstanding the fact that these directors have been on annual scheme for many years. It is ridiculous that a the CJRS should be so unfair as to penalize all directors on annual salaries. I would be interested in other peoples experience with claims for directors on annual schemes.

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Replying to notaguru:
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By Jack123
23rd Apr 2020 13:05

I think any roll back will have a current RTI submission date and will not get round the 19/03/2020 cut off date.

A colleague of mine who has a number of long serving directors on annual schemes, who processed his March payrolls on 24th March, had the same failed rejection message when he tried to submit a claim. This is the case notwithstanding the fact that these directors have been on annual scheme for many years. It is ridiculous that a the CJRS should be so unfair as to penalize all directors on annual salaries. I would be interested in other peoples experience with claims for directors on annual schemes.

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Replying to Jack123:
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By ChrisU
23rd Apr 2020 16:41

I'm also a sole director / sole employee who for the past few years has been doing my own annual RTI for a 5th April salary payment using Basic PAYE Tools, though I haven't actually registered it as an annual scheme.

Yes, I'm also being rejected, even though I've got a clear RTI history for previous years and correspondence such as Employer Notice of Coding letters (P6(T) & P9(T)), again clearly pre-dating 19th March and clearly identifying me via both my NI no and the "Works or Payroll Number" that I've used on the RTI submissions.

It's therefore ridiculous to suggest that I'm neither a bona-fide employer nor employee on a proper payroll that was in place long before 19th March.

However, from the (very helpful) link that was posted to the actual Treasury Directive, I now think that it's the requirement to be on a pre 19th March RTI showing a payment for the year 2019-20 that's the killer, rather than some particular exclusion of annual schemes - see Para 5 (a) i.

Incidentally, I'd already raised a query via the HMRC helpline and they agreed that, yes, they could find my PAYE history, but needed to refer my query on. In view of the actual wording of the Directive that I've now seen, I'm not hopeful until this wording changes.

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Replying to notaguru:
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By Jack123
23rd Apr 2020 13:06

I think any roll back will have a current RTI submission date and will not get round the 19/03/2020 cut off date.

A colleague of mine who has a number of long serving directors on annual schemes, who processed his March payrolls on 24th March, had the same failed rejection message when he tried to submit a claim. This is the case notwithstanding the fact that these directors have been on annual scheme for many years. It is ridiculous that a the CJRS should be so unfair as to penalize all directors on annual salaries. I would be interested in other peoples experience with claims for directors on annual schemes.

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Replying to notaguru:
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By Jack123
23rd Apr 2020 13:07

notaguru wrote:

"Our intended approach at present is to make the claim for an annual payroll with post 19 March RTI submission and appeal any rejection at that stage"

Thanks for your post, it's very helpful. When I went on it said "not eligible" so where are you going to appeal?

I am not an accountant and am a Director on annual Payroll doing this myself. I did the following which means I cannot claim retention scheme. NB I'm using HMRC Basic PAYE Tools

1. I did the annual submission as at end of year 05/04/2020
2. Then I submitted the "Final submission for tax year"
3. I have NOT changed Tax years yet to 2020/2021 on Basic PAYE Tools

I'm unsure if I should:
1. Rollback Basic PAYE Tools and do the single annual payment on 05/02/2020 to comply with before March 19th rule, then do final submission and change tax year in Basic Payee Tools....or

2. Change Tax year to current year in Basic PAYE Tools (this locks everything I think) and Do an Earlier Year Update and date payment to February 05/02/2020, thus complying with the Retention Scheme.

3. Do nothing and accept I'm falling through the cracks?

Any thoughts most welcome.

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Replying to philaccountant:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
17th Apr 2020 11:43

You can only claim for furloughed employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020 and which were notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020. This means an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 19 March 2020.

How about if a 2018/19 Annual RTI submission was made for a director? Wonder whether HMRC's system will stretch to that?

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By smdavies
17th Apr 2020 11:55

The directive only refers to 2019/20 submissions https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/treasury-direction-made-under...

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Replying to smdavies:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
17th Apr 2020 14:28

Ahha, thank you for the link to the directive.

I see that under Qualifying costs (section 5a) the payment must relate to an employee:
"to whom the employer made a payment of earnings in the tax year 2019-20 which is shown in a return under Schedule A1 to the PAYE Regulations that is made on or before a day that is a relevant CJRS day"

and that per s13 "a relevant CJRS day" can be 28th Feb or 19th March.

It would appear that is the wording that HMRC is relying on to support its contention that RTI returns must have been filed on or before 19th March 2020. It's not very well punctuated, so not absolutely clear whether it's the payment of earnings or the RTI return that must have been made on or before the relevant CJRS date (ie of 19th March). I suppose there will be cases of late or amended RTI returns that might benefit if the former were the case. In any event, it seems as though the Revenue are adopting the latter interpretation, in spite of it disqualifying some claims that were previously sound.

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Replying to smdavies:
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By stigers
20th Apr 2020 09:39

We are experiencing the annual director payroll issue, the claim is being rejected by the portal, this has to be rectified!!

Many of these directors are ineligible to any other forms of support.

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Replying to smdavies:
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By johnjenkins
20th Apr 2020 09:42

The assumption by Government is that if there is an annual payroll scheme then the Director will receive the annual salary on or about 31st March. Interesting to see what happens for 20/21.

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Replying to johnjenkins:
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By bendybod
21st Apr 2020 12:30

Exactly, so any clients where the directors are to be furloughed are being rejected if the RTI was not submitted prior to 19th regardless of whether they were already notified as being on the payroll by virtue of them receiving annual salary in previous years.
We're going to end up with a lot of rejections and a lot of very unhappy clients if they suddenly discover they can't even get the £576 pm.

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Replying to smdavies:
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By smdavies
20th Apr 2020 17:00

smdavies wrote:

Director Annual Payroll Schemes

This additional requirement of having to make an RTI submission by 19 March 2020, appears to prohibit director only companies on an annual payroll scheme from making any claim where their 2019/20 annual RTI submission is made after 19 March 2020.

UPDATE: Just to confirm that these annual payroll scheme claims are automatically being rejected (whether or not an RTI submission was performed before or after 19 March). I will post a further update as we have more information.

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By The_hobbit
20th Apr 2020 09:59

I have managed to submit my smaller payrolls fine, but a couple of my larger clients are causing problem.
I have the message that I cannot claim for more than the payroll. I have one client with 7 staff (consistantly) and the portal will only accept 2. I have another with 25 and the system will only accept 22.

I have left it with HMRC technical but not sure if or when they will get back to me

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Replying to The_hobbit:
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By Taxain
20th Apr 2020 17:18

I just had the exact same issue, employer has 5 employees but the portal would only allow me to claim for upto 4 employees. The employer has 2 shops under the same tax ref number, so i thought i would submit the claim for one shop first, which has 2 employees. After i submitted, i tried to submit a claim for the other shop which has 3 employees but it does not let me resubmit a claim for the same period! Ill probally have to call HMRC tomorrow and find out what to do now!

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By ayjay3
24th Apr 2020 12:57

How does being able to claim the employer’s NI contributions work if the company is claiming they£4,000 Employment Allowance? Can it have both?

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Replying to ayjay3:
By TMK Accounts
20th Apr 2020 11:18

I didn't claim for any April employers NI as it will be covered by Employers Allowance, but I did for the March period as they had "Used up" all of the EA. There may be other posts on AW discussing that in more detail, I don't think you can have/claim both.

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Replying to ayjay3:
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By spuddle
20th Apr 2020 11:24

If the EA is activated the Employer's NI will already be reduced accordingly. However using Sage payroll you are required to apply for EA and only confirm eligibility when confirmed by HMRC so it will not be possible to apply EA until then. What will happen re the JRS claim when eligibility has been confirmed and presumably an adjustment and refund will be available?
Will the amount claimed for Er's NI have to be refunded?

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Replying to spuddle:
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By spuddle
21st Apr 2020 13:46

From comments made elsewhere this seems to be only a Sage payroll issue. It is possible to just confirm eligibility without waiting for a letter.

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By shaka198
20th Apr 2020 11:58

I have had an employee for the past 15 + years who is paid a small amount annually in March, so plenty of PAYE history, annual returns etc, my claim is being refused, I suspect this is the same for many small business employees.

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Replying to shaka198:
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By stigers
20th Apr 2020 14:46

We are in the same position, roughly 200 annual schemes getting rejected!!

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By Homeworker
20th Apr 2020 13:02

How do we correct errors! I have just (successfully) made my first claim and thought I was being so careful not to make mistakes but have just realised that I included ERs NI when it was covered by the Employment Allowance!
Do you think they will pick this up or will we be able to correct on the next claim?
This is proving to be quite stressful with clients calling and emailing to chase.

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Replying to Homeworker:
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By djtax
20th Apr 2020 13:46

The small print of HMRC's extra info released only late on Friday implies there is no mechanism to submit amendments (unlike every other UK tax - its not well thought out is it?)

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By seitler
20th Apr 2020 23:40

We have had to submit a large number of requests for authorisations to HMRC as we are filing only agents in the main . We did this over a week ago but so far none of the clients have received the requisite code. I’m concerned this may be because there is no one actually at Hmrc to send them out. Has anybody else had this experience

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Replying to seitler:
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By bendybod
21st Apr 2020 12:27

I've never known HMRC to get an authorisation code to a client within a week even at the best of times, which this sure isn't.

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Replying to seitler:
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By djtax
22nd Apr 2020 12:40

I have received today from two clients the relevant agent auth code letters arising from applications I set up two weeks ago. I think it is an entirely automated process at HMRC so does not need human contact but just seems - as always - to be ridiculously slow.

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Replying to seitler:
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By Jackgyerou
24th Apr 2020 18:22

I have the same experience. It is now a week and nothing has been received yet.

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By markabacus
21st Apr 2020 08:29

Authorisations - Wing and a prayer. Typical turn around 2-3 weeks for client to get the code, the agent inputs it then 24-48 hrs before it appears on the agents list. With no doubt a much higher volume of requests it will take longer.
Fortunately we have always applied as full agent for our payroll clients

New employee - Client had a new starter 27th Feb, too late for Feb mthly payroll and now doesn't qualify. Tough to say the least

But at the end of the day our Government is trying it's best to deal with and react to circumstances no one could really have expected and planned for. Hindsight is such a wonderful thing! What a shame foresight isn't anywhere near as good!

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Replying to markabacus:
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By johnjenkins
21st Apr 2020 09:31

The crux is that the Government are trying. When you generalise you can't get all the anomalies right first time. I've got the greatest confidence in this Government and I'm sure they will sort out some sort of compromise to make sure they deliver what they intended.

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By gbowyer
21st Apr 2020 17:03

It has taken eight months to reactivate a payroll which HMRC had closed in error. My client now finds they are unable to make a claim as despite paying a salary from 1 November they were unable to file the RTI until the scheme was reactivated on 6 April. Not a happy client and where do I lodge an appeal?

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By ayjay3
22nd Apr 2020 12:11

I hesitate to say this, but perhaps all the (legitimate) attempts to pay less tax in the past are now coming home to roost!

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Replying to ayjay3:
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By johnjenkins
22nd Apr 2020 13:46

You should hesitate big time. The once a year payroll for Directors is for HMRC benefit, which they instigated. What difference does it make if you receive a salary and a dividend, you still get taxed at the same rate. So sorry ayjay3 you got it wrong.

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Replying to ayjay3:
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By ShayaG
23rd Apr 2020 17:24

It's completely arbitrary. Some of my annual payrolls were processed early March - they qualify. Some were processed in late March - they don't. It's impossible to explain to clients, because it is capricious and arbitrary.

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Replying to ShayaG:
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By notaguru
24th Apr 2020 08:24

That's the situation I am in. I processed (my own annual payroll) later. Has anyone tried doing a correction of any kind? For example, rolling back HMRC Basic PAYE tools, or doing an earlier year update to change payment month to Feb 05/02/20?

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By markabacus
24th Apr 2020 11:51

Arbituary. I don't think so. The Government have had to put a new scheme together very quickly in order to support individuals thru the Furloughing Scheme. It's to provide support not based on payroll data, paid thru the payroll but it's not pay as such.

Like any scheme [SEISS has similar issues] there are usually winners and losers

They've had to put in dates such as RTI submission etc in order to minimise what is a sad truth of people submitting fruadulent claims. Some people think there is FREE money to be had when of course there is no such thing, ultimately someone pays, insurance premiums go up etc or in this case thru our future tax bills

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Replying to markabacus:
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By smdavies
24th Apr 2020 12:31

I think there is definitely an arbituary aspect to this. It is not clear if the exclusions were intended or just not considered.

It is difficult to see why some performing services as an employee or sole trader would receive support but someone doing similar with a limited company will not.

I also suspect that a less arbituary approach will be taken when all will suffer the consequence of increased taxes to fund this support in the future.

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Replying to markabacus:
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By Jackgyerou
24th Apr 2020 18:27

It is indeed arbitrary. There are many ways that Government could protect against fraud without such clumsy cut off.

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