Self-Employment Income Support Scheme – Update

Further to our earlier article, HMRC have now issued further guidance on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). Under this scheme eligible taxpayers can claim 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

Although this new guidance has not changed the initial advice, HMRC have confirmed the following:

  • Trusts are not eligible to claim
  • Taxpayers should not make a claim if other support received has reached the state aid limits
  • Individuals on all categories of work visas can claim

There has also been further guidance in relation to the eligibility criteria that the business must have lost profits due to Covid 19. HMRC have stated that this could include the following reasons:

  • The taxpayer is self isolating
  • The taxpayer is on sick leave due to Covid 19
  • The taxpayer is shielding
  • The taxpayer has care responsibilities due to Covid 19
  • The taxpayer has been forced to reduce or cease trading due to issues in their supply chain caused by Covid 19
  • The taxpayer has reduced or no customers due to Covid 19

Importantly, HMRC have now provided information on the application process as well as providing an eligibility checker that can be accessed by individuals and agents.

Eligibility Checker

Checking your eligibility for this scheme is a simple process. By following the link below, and entering your Unique Tax Reference (UTR) and National Insurance number, HMRC will confirm if you are eligible for the grant.

The eligibility tracker does not give any information about the amount of the grant available, it simply states if HMRC believe you are eligible or not for the scheme.

If the eligibility checker shows that you are eligible you will then be able to make a claim. The process for this is discussed in the applications section later in this email.

If, however, the checker states that you are not eligible it does not appear to give you the specific reason that this is the case. Instead it lists the eligibility criteria for the scheme for you to check your details against. There is an appeals process for those who are informed that they are not eligible but who believe that they are entitled to the grant.

Reminder of the eligibility criteria

Who exactly can apply for this scheme?

  • You can apply for this scheme if you are a self-employed person or a member of a partnership
  • You submitted your 2018/19 self assessment tax return by the 23rd April extended deadline
  • You must have traded in the year 2019-20
  • You must be intending to continue to trade in 2020-21
  • You must have lost profits due to Covid 19
  • Your self employed trading profits must be less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017,18 and 2018-19
  • At least half your income must be from self employment

Application Process

Starting on 4th May, HMRC has begun the process of contacting taxpayers who they believe are entitled to make a claim using the scheme. Each taxpayer will receive one form of contact from HMRC. They have stated that they will use email where they hold a valid address, an SMS will be sent if they do not have an email address but do have a mobile number and a letter will only be sent if they hold neither of the first two. HMRC have advised that no electronic communication will contain an active link in order to guard against fraud. If you receive an email or SMS purporting to be from HMRC regarding this scheme that contains a link it is a scam.

The application portal will open on a staged basis from 13th May with different taxpayers having access on different days.

The claim will be made using the taxpayers government gateway account. Any taxpayer who does not already have an account will be guided how to do apply for one during the application process.

HMRC will calculate the grant from the self assessment information which they already hold and the taxpayer will not be required to provide any income details during the application process.

It is expected that payments to taxpayers will commence from 25 May 2020 with the payments taking up to 6 working days from the initial application.

Can Agents Make The Claim on Your Behalf?

Unfortunately, HMRC have confirmed that it has not been possible within the time frame to develop a system for accountants or other agents to make the claim on behalf of the taxpayer.

HMRC has however encouraged individuals to seek help and guidance from agents regarding making their claim or their eligibility to make a claim. Accountants can use the eligibility checker on your behalf. They may also be able to provide details of why you have been deemed to be not eligible. If this is the case then the agent may be able to help you if you wish to appeal your eligibility status.

Should you require further clarification on the above, or any other matter, please contact your Fairhurst partner.