Covid-19 Support for Self employment

Please find below useful information about accessing financial support for self-employed people which you might be relevant for you or someone that you know. Please feel free to circulate to your contacts/networks.

COVID-19 Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

This webinar provides an overview of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, including who can apply and how, the amount you can claim and other support available. HMRC is the UK’s tax, payments and customs authority. We collect the money that pays for the UK’s public services and help families and individuals with targeted financial support.

Tax agents locked out of SEISS claims.

The self-employed income support scheme (SEISS) will be open for applications from 13 May, but tax agents are barred from claiming the grant on behalf of their clients.

On 4 May HMRC started to contact taxpayers who it believes are entitled to claim a SEISS grant, telling them to be ready to claim when the portal opens next week.

HMRC has also appealed to tax agents to help their clients prepare, but tax agents won’t be able to access the SEISS portal to make grant claims on behalf of their clients.

Genuine or scam?

The initial contact to self-employed taxpayers is being made by email. Or, if the taxpayer has no email, HMRC will text message where it has a mobile phone number. Only where HMRC does not hold an email address or mobile phone number for the taxpayer will it send a physical letter, but this letter may not arrive until next week.

There are already numerous scam texts circulating purporting to be from HMRC, such as the one reported by AccountingWEB reader codling in which their client was asked to reply with their UTR number. As codling noted this information could be used by the scammer to make a fraudulent claim.

The genuine emails and texts from HMRC do not include an active link to click on; they only tell the taxpayer to be ready to claim.

Not necessarily eligible

The fact that the taxpayer has received this initial contact about the SEISS grant from HMRC doesn’t mean that they will meet all the criteria to receive the grant. HMRC will have the information about the trader’s profits for the years to 2018/19, but to claim the SEISS the taxpayer must also have traded in 2019/20 and be intending to trade in 2020/21. This information about current and future trading intentions will not yet be available to HMRC.

The other conditions for the SEISS grant are discussed in Coronavirus self-employed scheme: Get the details right.

HMRC is encouraging taxpayers to use its SEISS eligibility checker tool to check whether they can claim. However, this online tool only asks for the taxpayer’s UTR and NI numbers, it doesn’t ask about current or future trading intentions. Tax agents can use this checker on behalf of clients and ask HMRC to review the case if they think a client has been incorrectly rejected as ineligible to apply.

The taxpayer is not required to use the checker tool in order to make a SEISS claim. However, if they do use it and provide an email address as requested for further correspondence, this may speed up the process of the claim. HMRC will use that email address to tell the taxpayer exactly when the SEISS portal will be open for them. This will be a specific date between 13 and 18 May, with different days allocated to different taxpayers.

There are already numerous scam texts circulating purporting to be from HMRC, such as the one reported by AccountingWEB reader codling in which their client was asked to reply with their UTR number. As codling noted this information could be used by the scammer to make a fraudulent claim.

The genuine emails and texts from HMRC do not include an active link to click on; they only tell the taxpayer to be ready to claim.