Non-residents have restrictions on the number of days (in fact midnights) that they may enter the UK based on their personal circumstances. COVID-19 may have seen unplanned returns to the UK or individuals not able to leave the UK, thus leading to an increase an individual’s UK day count. The Statutory resident test does have a relief where days spent in the UK for exceptional circumstances (up to the maximum of 60 days per tax year), are not counted. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, HMRC have recently updated their guidance manual to confirm that the following circumstances will be regarded as ‘exceptional circumstances’ for days spent in the UK;
- you are quarantined or advised by a health professional or public health guidance to self-isolate in the UK as a result of the virus,
- where official Government advice is not to travel from the UK as a result of the virus,
- you are unable to leave the UK as a result of the closure of international borders, or
- you are asked by your employer to return to the UK temporarily as a result of the virus
There will be many individuals who returned to the UK, not at the clear request of their employer, knowing the limitations that COVID-19 would put on them leaving the UK. The original guidance provided by HMRC in respect of exceptional circumstances was always to assist those who were unable to leave the UK, not those that chose to return, and it would appear that HMRC have not altered their stance on this.