HMRC have issued new guidance about how the Statutory Residence Test (SRT) will operate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is likely to impact taxpayers' ability to move freely to and from the UK and require them to unexpectedly have to remain in the UK for a period of time.

For the purposes of day counting for SRT if you:

  • Are quarantined or advised by a health professional to self-isolate in the UK as a result of the virus.
  • Find yourself advised by official Government advice not to travel from the UK as a result of the virus
  • Are unable to leave the UK due to the closure of international borders.
  • Are asked by your employer to return to the UK temporarily as a result of the virus.

HMRC consider that the circumstances are 'exceptional' and you can disregard up to 60 days of those spent in the UK as a result of the exceptional circumstances.

Exceptional circumstances normally apply where the individual has no choice about the time they spend in the UK, or in coming back to the UK, and where the situation is beyond their control.

 Examples of exceptional circumstances given by HMRC include:

  • Local or national emergencies, such as civil unrest.
  • Natural disasters.
  • War.
  • A sudden serious or life-threatening illness or injury to an individual.
  • In limited situations, where an individual comes back to the UK to deal with a sudden or life-threatening illness or injury to a spouse, partner or dependent child.

Whilst HMRC issued further guidance on this in August 2020 there has been no extension to the maximum limit of the number of days which can be disregarded, which remains at 60 days despite the scale of the pandemic. 

HMRC have also confirmed that rules surrounding a "significant break" from overseas work, will not be relaxed.  

Days worked in the UK due to COVID-19 restrictions

HMRC have confirmed that they will not seek to tax any days worked in the UK by a non-resident due to COVID-19 imposed restrictions. Employment income relating to the period straing on the date the non-resident intended to leave the UK and the date they actually left, will not be taxable if:

  • the income is taxable in the individual's home country, and
  • the individual left the UK as soon as they possibly could.

HMRC may require the individual to show evidence for the above. HMRC's example used that of a requirement to self-isolate. There have been no further updates as to whether other examples of exceptional circumsatances will fall within this guidance.

Any days spent in the UK where the individual worked more than 3 hours, whilst may be not taxable, will still count towards the 30 UK work days allowed as part of the SRT.

Individuals present in the UK to work on COVID-19 related activities

The Finance Act 2020 has enacted changes to the day count for those non-resident individuals in the UK between 1 March 2020 and 1 June 2020 working on COVID-19 related activities. These activities will not count towards the residence test.

Links to our guides:

COVID-19: Government support tracker. 

SRT: Statutory Residence Test
What is the statutory residency test? Why is it important and how does it work?

SRT: Statutory Residence Test Toolkit
This is an interactive tool to determine 'At a glance' whether you are UK resident or not in a tax year for 2013/14 onwards.

SRT: Day Counting Toolkit

Residence v non-residence: tax treatment
An overview of the tax treatments dependent upon your residency status.

External Link:

HMRC guidance: SRT and Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

Letter from the Chancellor to the Treasury Committee

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