HM Revenue & Customs has published guidance and set-up a helpline for postmasters who might need to make a self-assessment return as a result of the compensation they received under the Horizon Shortfall Scheme (HSS).
Postmasters in the HSS who do not receive their top-up payment in good time to file their self-assessment tax return before Wednesday 31 January will not have to pay any late filing or late payment penalty or interest.
The HSS was put in place by Post Office Ltd to compensate postmasters who, while not subject to criminal conviction, made good the apparent losses caused by the Horizon system from their own pockets. Its design meant that the original HSS compensation payments are subject to Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs).
Postmasters who receive compensation under the HSS may therefore have to file a self-assessment tax return and pay Income Tax and NICs on these payments.
In June last year, Government announced postmasters in the HSS will receive top-up payments to ensure that the amount of compensation they receive is not unduly reduced by tax. Postmasters in the HSS will also receive £300 to pay for independent advice on filing their tax return. Not all top-up payments and tax advice grants have yet been made by the Post Office.
HMRC is committed to supporting HSS postmasters to file their tax return and pay any tax and NICs due.
Postmasters can click here for guidance about the HSS.
Anyone with any questions can call HM Revenue & Customs from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, on 0300 322 9625.