HMRC updates Statutory Residence Test due to COVID-19

New guidance has been issued by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) which alters how the Statutory Residence Test (SRT) for tax will operate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest COVID-19 guidance is likely to affect taxpayers’ ability to move freely into and out of the UK, which could affect their status under the SRT.

The SRT came into effect in April 2013 and allows a taxpayer to work out their residence status for a tax year.

For day counting under the SRT, HMRC has confirmed what it considers exceptional circumstances that would allow a taxpayer to disregard up to 60 days spent in the UK. This includes where a taxpayer is:

  • Quarantined or advised by a health professional to self-isolate in the UK as a result of the virus;
  • Advised by official Government advice not to travel from the UK as a result of the virus;
  • Unable to leave the UK due to the closure of international borders; or
  • Asked by an employer to return to the UK temporarily as a result of the virus.

Guidance was also issued earlier this year in August, but there has been no extension to the maximum limit to the number of days which can be disregarded, which remains at 60 days, despite the scale of the pandemic.

The existing rules surrounding a “significant break” from overseas work will also remain unaltered, according to HMRC.

Days worked in the UK by a non-resident due to COVID-19 imposed restrictions will also not be taxed for employment income related to periods starting from the day the non-resident intended to leave the UK and the date they eventually left, if:

  • The income is taxable in the individual’s home country, and
  • The individual left the UK as soon as they possibly could.

However, individuals may be required to provide evidence for the above to HMRC. Any days spent in the UK. where the individual worked more than three hours, whilst not taxable, will still count towards the 30 UK work days allowed as part of the SRT.

The Finance Act 2020 has enacted changes to the day count for those non-resident individuals in the UK between 1 March 2020 and 1 June 2020 working on COVID-19 related activities. These activities will not count towards the residence test.

If you are affected by changes to the SRT due to COVID-19 you must seek advice at the earliest opportunity.

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