HMRC are currently in the process of sending e-mails, SMS messages and letters to taxpayers who they believe may be entitled to claim an SEISS grant. These are expected to arrive during the week beginning 4 May 2020, although letters may not be received until the following week.
Each taxpayer will receive one form of contact:
- where HMRC holds an email address it uses that;
- SMS is used where HMRC holds a mobile number, but not an email address; and
- a letter is sent where HMRC holds neither.
This initial contact explains what the taxpayer needs to do to be ready to claim when the claims portal opens.
HMRC is contacting all those who may be eligible, but there is no guarantee based on this initial contact that all recipients will be eligible. HMRC is making contact to taxpayers based on the information in the self assessment tax returns filed by the taxpayers and has carried out the necessary calculations and eligibility checks based on those figures.
There are other conditions that must be met, such as having continued to trade in 2019/20 and intending to continue in 2020/21. More details of the conditions for eligibility for this scheme are here.
There is an eligibility checker available on GOV.UK and it is available for use by anyone, not just those who have been contacted by HMRC.
The taxpayer enters their self assessment tax reference and national insurance number and the checker confirms whether they are eligible. The taxpayer does not need to enter any information about their income.
The taxpayer will not be provided with any information about the amount of grant available when they are checking their eligibility, as these details will only be available to the taxpayer when they make their application. The taxpayer will be asked to provide an e-mail address for future correspondence.
How to apply
The portal will be open to applications from taxpayers on a staged basis between 13 and 18 May, with the portal opening on different days for different taxpayers.
HMRC will e-mail taxpayers who have provided an e-mail address (when using the eligibility checker or previously) to confirm when the portal is open for them. Taxpayers can also use the eligibility checker to find out whether the application portal is open for them.
Taxpayers then log in to their government gateway account (or select the option to create an account) to complete the application process. This must be done through the taxpayer’s own individual account, not through an agent’s government gateway account.
Taxpayers will be presented with a detailed calculation of the grant available to them and will be asked to:
- read and accept the eligibility criteria;
- complete declarations, including to confirm that the business has been adversely affected by coronavirus; and
- supply the bank account details into which they would like the grant to be paid.
To make the claim the taxpayer will need the following information to hand:
- Self-Assessment UTR
- National Insurance Number
- Government Gateway user ID and password
- Account number and sort code for the bank account they want the grant paid into
The taxpayer does not need to provide any information about their income – the calculations are all done by HMRC based on the tax returns submitted. HMRC will check the claim and expects to make payments from 25 May 2020, within six working days of the application being submitted.
Taxpayers should keep a copy of all records relating to the claim including:
- The amount claimed
- The claim reference number
- Evidence that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus.
The grant will be included on the taxpayer’s self-assessment tax return and will also need to be reported as self-employed income for any Universal Credit claims, or as self-employed income and that the taxpayers is working 16 hours a week for any tax credit claims.
Where the eligibility checker gives a ‘not eligible’ result there is an option to ask HMRC to review the eligibility. This can be completed by either the taxpayer or the agent but the process for disputing the amount of the grant is not yet known.
HMRC expects to have powers to check claims, to require repayment of the grant and to charge penalties.
Assistance from Agents
The taxpayer must make their own application for grants under the self-employment income support scheme.
HMRC has advised that agents should not use client credentials to apply for grants on behalf of clients and that doing so may trigger HMRC fraud checks and delay payment. Using client credentials is also, in most circumstances, a breach of institute guidelines.
We can, however, assist during the application process by using the eligibility checker on behalf of taxpayers, guiding them through the process or providing the information required for the application.
We are aware of an increase in scam emails purporting to be from HMRC offering financial help. If you receive texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, offering financial help or a tax refund and asking you to click on a link or give personal information, it is a scam and should be deleted.
Finally, please take a look at our Coronavirus hub here which includes guidance on all other COVID-19 support measures introduced by HMRC.
Should you require assistance, please get in touch with a member of our tax team.