In Top-Notch Accountants Limited v HMRC [2023] TC08833, the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) found that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) conditions were not met. Documents produced in support of the claim had been deliberately manipulated.

  • Top-Notch Accountants Limited (the company) submitted a claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), in respect of the period beginning 23 March 2020, for an employee who had commenced employment on 20 December 2019.
  • In October 2020, HMRC wrote to the company advising they were opening a check into the CJRS claims.
    • A number of items of information, including payslips and bank statements, were requested and subsequently provided by the company.
    • HMRC noted that the bank statements appeared to have been manipulated and included a number of transactions where the font had been varied and spelling mistakes made.
  • In December 2020, HMRC advised that the employee in question did not qualify under the CJRS as they had not been included in a Real-Time Information (RTI) submission prior to 19 March 2020.
    • The earliest that HMRC had been notified of the employee’s earnings on an RTI submission was on 16 April 2020.
    • The company argued that earlier RTI submissions had been made, but were not received by HMRC. The director stated that he had contacted HMRC a number of times and was advised to make resubmissions in April and May 2020. HMRC had no record of this call.
  • Following much correspondence between HMRC and the company, HMRC raised an assessment of £19,981.
  • After a Statutory review, which varied the assessment to £15,373, the company Appealed to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT).

The FTT found that:

  • The company's director was not a credible witness.
    • The company had provided RTI submission printouts which contained ‘Correlation IDs’ which were inconsistent with those held by HMRC.
    • IDs on submissions that the company purported to have made in January, February and March 2020 correlated with IDs on submissions received by HMRC in May 2020.
    • The bank statements provided had been very obviously altered, and, on the balance of probabilities, so had the RTI confirmations.
  • The clear statutory requirement that, before 19 March 2020, an RTI submission had to have been made that included details of the employee, was not met. The CJRS claim conditions had not been fulfilled. 

The appeal was dismissed. The FTT varied the assessment to £14,673, at HMRC’s request.

Useful guides on this topic

COVID-19: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to 31 October 2020
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS): a cash grant payable to employers up to 31 March 2021.

COVID-19: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to 30 September 2021
What is CJRS? When does the CJRS apply? How to claim CJRS. How to calculate CJRS claim amounts.

Statutory Review (by HMRC)
What is a Statutory Review? Is it automatic? What happens in a Statutory Review? Can you challenge a Statutory Review's findings? Can you influence a Statutory Review? 

How to appeal an HMRC decision
Disagree with an HMRC decision? How to appeal, what type of decision can you appeal and what are your different options when you disagree with HMRC? What are the key steps in making an appeal?

External link

Top-Notch Accountants Limited v HMRC [2023] TC08833

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