In Sentinel Fire and Security Systems Limited v HMRC [2023] TC08849, the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) confirmed that HMRC were able to clawback a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) payment for a new employee who joined the business in February 2020 but did not appear its payroll for RTI purposes until after the March cut-off date.

  • The appellant was a qualifying employer for the purposes of CJRS, having a PAYE scheme registered with HMRC's Real-Time Information system (RTI).
  • The employee, Mr Boddice, started his employment with the company on 25 February 2020. The company payroll was processed on the last Friday of the month, 24 February 2020, so Mr Boddice was not included.
  • In March 2020, the last Friday of the month was 25 March 2020. This was after the required cut-off date for RTI submissions of 19 March 2020.
  • A CJRS claim was made for Mr Boddice for March/April 2020 to January 2021.
  • HMRC challenged the claim during a compliance check, after which an assessment was issued.
  • The appellant appealed to the FTT.

The appellant accepted that the criteria for a valid claim had not been met:

  • The employer must have been within the RTI system.
  • The employer must have made an employment payment in relation to the employee and that payment needed to have been included on an RTI return, before 19 March 2020.
  • The employee must not have had a cessation date reported on or before 19 March 2020.
  • The employee must have been furloughed.

The appellant hoped that the FTT would be able to prevent HMRC from claiming a clawback payment, given that the employee qualified in all but the RTI submission.

The FTT noted and agreed with the judge in Carlick Contract Furniture Ltd v HMRC [2022] TC08543, that whilst sympathetic to the claim, the FTT has no jurisdiction to decide on matters of fairness, only legislation.

The appeal was dismissed.

Comment

This is another in a Growing number of CJRS cases where the employer/employee seemed to meet all of the employment qualifying criteria for a CJRS claim, but failed on a technicality of the employer's RTI filing schedule. The First Direction from governement that legislated for CJRS came into force on 20 April 2020, a month after the cut-off date. It was a fast-moving situation but this adds to the feeling of unfairness for this employer.

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.

RTI: Real-Time Information for PAYE 
What is RTI: Real-Time Information (RTI) reporting for PAYE? How does it 

FTT reluctantly denies CJRS claim 
In Carlick Contract Furniture Limited v HMRC [2022] TC08543, the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) ruled that Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) claims for two employees were not qualifying costs, whilst acknowledging that denying the claims seemed to be contrary to the spirit of the scheme.

COVID-19: Tax Appeals
Here we track tax appeals involving the employee Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS),  and also VAT.

External link

Sentinel Fire and Security Systems Limited v HMRC [2023] TC08849


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