To help those suffering cash flow difficulties as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government have announced that self-assessment taxpayers can delay making their second payment on account for 2019/20. The payment would normally by due by 31 July 2020.
Under self-assessment, a taxpayer is required to make payments on account of their tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability where their bill for the previous tax year is £1,000 or more, unless at least 80% of their tax liability for the year is deducted at source, such as under PAYE. Each payment on account is 50% of the previous year’s tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability. The payments are made on 31 January in the tax year and 31 July after the end of the tax year. If any further tax is due, this must be paid by 31 January after the end of the tax year. In the event that the payments on account are more than the final liability for the year, the excess is set against the tax due for the next tax year or refunded.
The normal payment dates for payments on account for the 2019/20 tax year are 31 January 2020 and 31 July 2020, with any balance due by 31 January 2021.
Delay not cancellation
The option on offer is a deferral option not a cancellation. Where this is taken up, the payment on account must be paid by 31 January 2021. As long as payment is made by this date, no interest or penalties will be charged.
Should I pay if I can?
The deferral option is clearly advantageous to those who have taken a financial hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly those operating in sectors where working is not possible during the lockdown, such as hairdressers and beauticians and those operating in the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors.
For those who have not taken a financial hit or who are otherwise able to pay, from a cash flow perspective it may be attractive to defer the payment. However, this may simply be a case of delaying the pain; not only will the delayed payment on account be due on 31 January 2021 together with any Class 2 National Insurance liability, but also the first payment on account for 2020/21. This may amount to a sizeable bill.
The decision as to whether to pay or defer is a personal one, but the option to choose is a welcome one.