UPDATE to the Self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

7 May 2020 Steven Strawther Covid-19

Further guidance has emerged and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have started to contact taxpayers this week who may be eligible for SEISS.

(Last updated 18.06.20)

Updated information 18.06.20

The Chancellor has announced the scheme has now been extended for those individuals whose trade continues to be, or is newly, adversely affected by COVID-19 on or after 14 July 2020.

The scheme currently allows eligible self-employed individuals or members of a partnership to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total. If you are eligible and want to claim the first grant you must make your claim before 13 July 2020.

The extension will allow those eligible to claim for a second and final taxable grant in August 2020. The final grant will be worth 70% of average monthly trading profits, again paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

The online service for the second and final grant is not yet available, HM Revenue and Customs will update the guidance to confirm when the claim portal will be open.

This is great news for the self-employed and sees the anticipated launch date brought forward from early June, with the online application service now confirmed to be opening on a staged basis between 13 and 18 May and expected payments to be made from 25 May or within 6 working days of successful applications if later.

Updated Guidance

There has been very little change to the previous guidance although HMRC have now provided some clarity on a few of the previous points as follows:

  • Confirmation on what is meant by a business being adversely affected by COVID-19, which includes being unable to work due to shielding, self-isolating, sick leave or care responsibilities. It also includes reducing work or temporarily ceasing trade due to problems with supplies or fewer/no customers.
  • Confirmation that trusts are not eligible;
  • Taxpayers should not make a claim if they have already reached the state aid limits for other support or if the claim would breach these limits.
  • Grants can be claimed by eligible individuals on all categories of work visa.

 

Pre-application Stage

Taxpayers whom HMRC think may be eligible will receive communication as follows:

  • E-mail in the first instance where HMRC holds an e-mail address;
  • SMS if HMRC holds a mobile number but no e-mail;
  • Letter, where HMRC holds neither of the above.

 

Eligibility

HMRC is contacting those individuals who may be eligible, based on information contained in the Self-Assessment Tax Returns filed. However, not all recipients contacted will in fact be eligible as HMRC will not necessarily know if the individual meets all of the conditions of the scheme i.e.

  • If you continued to trade in the 2019/20 tax year;
  • If you are trading when you apply or would be if not for COVID-19;
  • If you intend to continue trading;
  • If you have lost profits due to COVID-19.

HMRC have introduced a simple online eligibility checker This is open to anyone, not just those contacted as mentioned above and all you will need to use this tool is your Self-Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and National Insurance number.

The checker will not give you any information about the amount of grant available, it will just advise if you are eligible or not and if you are it will confirm a date and time for which the online application service will be available to you. This time and date will be random, and the online application will be opening on different dates and times for groups of individuals and it is not a first come, first served approach.

We recommend that all self-employed individuals who are hoping to receive grant funding from the scheme check their status on the online eligibility checker. 

Please refer to the HMRC guidance on how they check eligibility.

 

How to Apply

Unfortunately, HMRC have been unable to make the claim process available to agents through their agent accounts and therefore we are unable to submit the claims on behalf of clients through our agent Government Gateway portal.

Clients will therefore have to submit claims themselves.

 

Gaining access to the claim portal

If the eligibility checker confirms you are eligible for a grant it will ask you to log into your Government Gateway account, or if you don’t have a Government Gateway it will allow you to select the option to create an account (which should be a straightforward process).

If you do not already have a Government Gateway account, we recommend waiting to create one when prompted at the first step of the application process when the portal opens. This will avoid the possibility of setting up an account that is enrolled for the wrong services and will remove the requirement for an authentication code in the post.

Please note setting up your own Government Gateway account will not impact the agent account we already have in place with you as an authorised client.

 

Submitting a claim

On the date allocated by HMRC you will need to log in to your Government Gateway account (or create one and complete the application process if you have not yet done so). You will be presented with a detailed calculation and will be asked to:

  • Read and accept the eligibility criteria;
  • Complete the declarations, including confirming that the business has been affected by COVID-19;
  • Supply the bank details you wish the grant to be paid into.

You will not need to provide any information about your income, HMRC will base the claim on the Tax Returns submitted. HMRC will check the claim and expect to make the first payments from 25 May or within 6 working days of the application if later.

HMRC will have powers to review claims and if fraudulent will require repayment of the grant and may charge penalties.

 

Where we can help?

As mentioned above, unfortunately we are unable to submit the applications on behalf of clients through our agent Government Gateway portal. However, we are still here to provide support to clients if required and recommend you contact us if you are having difficulties, we can help:

 

  • By using the eligibility checker for you;
  • If the eligibility checker gives a ‘not eligible’ result we can review this based on our records (where we prepare your Self-Assessment Tax Return) and request that HMRC review the eligibility on your behalf;
  • Guide you through setting up your Government Gateway account;
  • If you provide a copy of the HMRC grant calculation we can help you understand the numbers and if less than you were expecting, we can prepare calculations and dispute the claim with HMRC. Note the process for disputing the amount of grant is however not yet known.
  • Alternatively, we can provide all of the information you will require to review everything yourself.

Please contact Steven Strawther for more information and refer to the HMRC guidance on how to claim the grant if required.

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