In Raystra Healthcare Limited v HMRC  TC08838, the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) found that a failure to file Real-Time Information (RTI) returns on or before 19 March 2020 due to a software issue, invalidated a claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
- Raystra Healthcare Limited (Raystra) claimed grants under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) between 30 April 2020 and 25 August 2020 in respect of six employees.
- In November 2019, Raystra upgraded its payroll software. During the upgrade, the software had been set to ‘test’ mode meaning that it subsequently failed to submit Real-Time Information (RTI) returns to HMRC.
- As a consequence of the software remaining in test mode, Raystra made no RTI submissions after 13 November 2019, until 24 April 2020, when it became aware of the issue due to a call from HMRC.
- Raystra rectified the matter the same day.
- As no RTI return in respect of the six employees had been made on or before 19 March 2020 (the initial CJRS cut-off date), HMRC issued an assessment to recover the CJRS grants paid, on the basis that the scheme conditions were not met.
- The employment of all six individuals had not commenced early enough for payments of earnings to them to have been included in any of the RTI returns submitted up to 13 November 2019.
- Following a Review by HMRC, which upheld the assessment, Raystra made a Late appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT).
Permission for a late appeal was granted as HMRC expressly stated that they did not object.
The FTT found that:
- Raystra was not eligible to receive the CJRS payments because no payments of earnings to any of the six employees in question were shown in any RTI return made by Raystra on or before 19 March 2020.
- Neither the CJRS wording nor the surrounding legislation, provided for any exception to this requirement due to circumstances that were not the employer’s fault.
- HMRC were entitled to issue an assessment.
- The FTT had no discretion to allow an appeal of this kind on compassionate grounds.
Raystra’s appeal was dismissed.
This case demonstrates the need to have complied with the letter of the law.
Although Raystra was able to produce bank statements to show that the employees in question were indeed employed prior to 19 March 2020, this did not displace the need for an RTI return, showing a payment of earnings to those employees to have been submitted to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020. Fundamentally, this statutory condition was not met.
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?
When can you make a late tax appeal? What conditions must be met?