Tax Briefing March 2020


As a result of the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it is easy to forget the Budget took place in March. Most readers will have already received updates and newsletters but, for those who have not, here is the HMRC Budget 2020 Overview. Or, for those who prefer, here is their summary in the form of a Budget 2020 Tax Agent Blog.

Here is a selection of other tax news items from March which you may have missed among all of the disruptions…


HMRC has confirmed that all taxpayers are entitled to defer payment of the 31 July 2020 self-assessment payment on account, not just the self-employed.

This is just one of the initiatives set out in the guidance note COVID-19: Support for Businesses.

Working from home

Much increased numbers of employees are now working from home as a result of coronavirus. HMRC has published guidance to employers setting out the tax treatment of equipment and services supplied to those employees.

Statutory residence test

Also as a result of coronavirus, HMRC has published guidance on how the ‘exceptional circumstances’ test is to be applied to individuals faced with the prospect of spending more time in the UK than originally planned. The guidance is in their Residence, Domicile and Remittance Basis Manual at RDRM11005. Taxpayers and advisers should note HMRC’s warning that the guidance may change at short notice as situations change.

Legislative delays

Businesses and their advisers will have been pleased to note the introduction of the off-payroll working rules for the private sector has been delayed until 2021. The government has been keen to stress this is no more than a delay.

The Chartered Institute of Taxation, amongst others, has made representations and set out the case for other legislation to be delayed until next year.

Finance Bill 2020

Finance Bill 2020 was published on 19 March. The Bill, together with explanatory notes, can be found here.


Louis Da Silva [2020] UKFTT 0106 (TC) – Ordinary residence

The taxpayer, in this case, failed in his attempt to persuade the First-Tier tribunal that he had not been ordinarily resident in the UK. The Tribunal found that Mr. Da Silva’s oral evidence contained discrepancies when compared with the evidence inferred from bank and credit card statements. Although the concept of ordinary residence now has little relevance following the introduction of the statutory residence test in 2013, the case does demonstrate the continued importance of meticulous record-keeping and supporting documentary evidence to support a claim to have non-resident status.

Da Silva

Pensfold [2020] UKFTT 0116 (TC) – Stamp duty land tax higher rate relief

The taxpayer company acquired a farm with around 11 hectares of land with the intention of developing it into an eco/agritourism trading venture. The project was delayed and there was some letting of the farmhouse in the meantime.

A number of issues were put before the Tribunal, including whether relief from the 15% higher rate was available. The Tribunal agreed there was nothing in the legislation to require the trade to be carried on at the time of the claim for relief. All that is required is to demonstrate the intention, backed up by supporting commercial plans, to start to trade without reasonable delay.

This writer has seen several instances of HMRC attempting to deny relief by using hindsight rather than applying the actual facts at the time of the property acquisition.


Myles-Till [2020] UKFTT 0127 (TC)

This is the latest in a growing line of cases that consider whether land attached to a dwelling is a reason for the non-residential or mixed-use rates of stamp duty land tax to be applied. In this case, an adjoining paddock was not being put to any grazing or other agricultural use at the time of purchase. There was insufficient evidence to suggest the paddock served any self-standing commercial function, so the Tribunal decided it formed part of the grounds of the dwelling and the residential rates of stamp duty land tax applied.


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