Is Companies House still operating as normal?
Companies House’s online services (including incorporations, registration of charges and other matters) are still operational and we strongly advise that these are used whenever possible. Companies House is now allowing a number of documents previously only able to be filed on paper (such as shareholder resolutions and articles of association) to be filed electronically and this system is working well.
Companies House is following Public Health England advice and as such, is subject to certain limitations as staff work from home:
- The contact centre is closed, so you cannot call – you can email on [email protected] and replies are usually received within 48 hours.
- All same-day guaranteed services remain suspended. The normal online services are still operating (see above), but where a Companies House filing has legal effect and is not merely a notification to the registrar please be aware that there may be a delay.
- Paper filings can still be sent to Cardiff, but there is likely to be a delay in processing times. Most filings are processed within a week, but there is potential for more significant delay. Please bear this in mind in particular for:
- capital reductions - the filing cannot be made online and is not effective until accepted by Companies House; and
- registration of charges - if the filing is rejected it may not be filed within the 21-day limit (although the time limit has been temporarily extended to 31 days).
The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 gave all companies an automatic three month extension to their accounts filing period. Accounts must be filed by the new filing deadline; late filings will generate automatic fines as normal.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries or would like any assistance in this regard.
HMRC Guidance – Signing and Stamping of Documents for Stamp Duty Purposes during Covid-19
HMRC is trying to allow as many as possible of its staff to work from home rather than travelling to offices on public transport.
Signing of stock transfer forms
HMRC is accepting electronic signatures on stock transfer forms.
Electronic temporary stamping process
Documents which need to be stamped can be emailed to HMRC which will deal with them electronically, rather than the application of a physical stamp. Please do not send physical post to the Stamp Office at this time as it will not be processed.
This temporary stamping process will provide assurances that HMRC will not levy penalties on company registrars who go ahead and register changes in title or on customers who subsequently send in physical documents for stamping once this crisis period is over.
Payment, where needed, should be made electronically.
- Completing a stock transfer form
- Paying stamp duty
- Tax when you buy shares
- Stamp Duty and Stamp Duty Reserve Tax: transfer schemes of arrangement
- Stamp Duty: reliefs and exemptions on paper shares
- Stamp Duty: getting an opinion about a payment or penalty
- Relief from Stamp Duty in respect of documents effecting intra-group transfers of stock or marketable securities
HMRC is open to receiving any comments about the new guidance.
HMRC Guidance - Temporary Stamp Duty Repayments
HMRC has put in place a temporary process for stamp duty refunds which will apply during the COVID-19 crisis. This process applies to stamp duty on shares and land transactions before December 2003.
If the stamp duty refund is due to:
- an overpayment when a transaction is first notified to HMRC, HMRC will send a transaction confirmation letter and deal with the repayment separately; or
- an incorrect assessment by the customer of the amount of stamp duty payable, the customer should send an email to [email protected] requesting a refund, setting out the names of the relevant parties and the reason for the refund claim and including a soft copy of the Instrument of Transfer. The subject line of the email should reference ‘repayment’ or ‘refund’.
HMRC can only make electronic repayments and will ask customers to provide their bank account details using Dropbox. Bank account details must not be emailed to HMRC, otherwise the repayment will not be processed.
Once HMRC has received the customer’s bank account details, they will process the repayment. Usually, this will be done by Faster Payment and customers will be contacted by email once authorisation for the repayment has been given.
Any repayment claims which were sent to the Birmingham Stamp Office but were not processed before lockdown began, will need to be resubmitted electronically, otherwise the claim will not be dealt with until the Stamp Office re-opens.
HMRC has stated that Dropbox has been approved by their Data Security team, only the customer and designated HMRC Officers will be able to access the Dropbox link and customers will not need to download any additional software or computer programs.
Customers will be sent an email with a secure weblink so they can upload their bank account details. Please note that the link will only be valid for 48 hours, after which a new link will need to be provided.
The customer should provide the:
- account name
- sort code
- account number
in pdf form.
Where the temporary repayment process has been used, customers should resubmit their physical copy of the Instrument of Transfer once the Stamp Office re-opens so that it can be re-stamped to reflect the repayment.
Stamp Duty Reserve Tax (SDRT)
HMRC are working on putting in place a temporary process for SDRT repayments.
The current pandemic has changed the way we live and work for the foreseeable future. In this period of uncertainty, we understand that there are many questions and concerns you may have in relation to your personal circumstances.