HMRC have recently published new guidance on what exceptional circumstances for the purposes of the Statutory Residence Test and Coronavirus (COVID-19) are.

The guidance says that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may impact individuals' ability to move freely to and from the UK or, require them to remain unexpectedly in the UK.

Due to these circumstances the number of days spent in the UK by and individual may be beyond a person's control.

Whether days spent in the UK can be disregarded due to exceptional circumstances will always depend on the facts and circumstances of each individual case, HMRC have confirmed that if an individual:

  • is quarantined or advised by a health professional or public health guidance to self-isolate in the UK as a result of the virus;
  • find himself/herself advised by official Government advice not to travel from the UK as a result of the virus;
  • is unable to leave the UK as a result of the closure of international borders; or
  • is asked by his/her employer to return to the UK temporarily as a result of the virus

the circumstances are considered as exceptional and so days spent in the UK should be disregarded for tax residence purposes.

On the 9 of April 2020 the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also confirmed in a letter that the Statutory Residence Test will be amended to ensure that any period(s) between 1 March and 1 June 2020 spent in the UK by individuals working on COVID-19 related activities will not count towards the residence tests.

The Chancellor also pointed out in the document that these changes are time limited and only support those people whose skill-sets are currently required.

HMRC also confirmed that events resulting from the impact of the virus are changing rapidly and their guidance may change at short notice as situations change.