COVID-19 – more on the self-employed income support scheme

May 11, 2020

Last week HMRC started contacting self-employed taxpayers who they think could be eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), based on the information they provided in their 2018/19 self-assessment return. HMRC is inviting taxpayers to use the online checker which will quickly confirm whether they are eligible and will give taxpayers a specific date from which they can make a claim.  

We understand the SEISS will open for claims later this week on 13 May with claims expected to begin to be paid from 25 May or within six working days of the application being submitted, whichever is later. We also understand that farmers can claim under the scheme; subject to the eligibility criteria being met.  

You may already have been contacted by clients about this process. HMRC is writing to ask for your support and help, as taxpayers prepare to make a claim.  

How you can help  

You can help your clients by:  

 
  • ensuring they are aware they may be eligible  

  • helping them to find the details they need  

  • using the online eligibility checker on their behalf (or supporting them to use it themselves)  

  • talking them through why they may or may not be eligible, drawing on HMRC’s online guidance or through HMRC’s daily webinars.   

 

As an agent you won’t be able to make a claim on behalf of your clients.  

According to HMRC, designing a scheme that enabled agents to apply on behalf of clients would have taken substantially longer to deliver, at a time when speed is the priority.  

Instead, HMRC has designed the scheme to be as simple as possible for taxpayers to use, and will calculate the amount a taxpayer is entitled to based on the information already held.  

How to use the checker  

To use the online checker, your client or you, on their behalf, will need their Unique Taxpayer Reference Number and their National Insurance Number.  

If your client is eligible, they will be given a date, between 13 and 18‌‌ May, from which they can apply. This date is assigned randomly to help HMRC manage demand on the service, making sure that everyone who needs to make a claim can do so.  

Your client will also be asked to provide their Government Gateway credentials (user ID and password) and check that their bank and contact details are up to date. This is important so that HMRC can remind them by email or text message when it’s their turn to make a claim.  

If your client doesn’t have Government Gateway credentials, they can set those up simply if they follow HMRC’s guidance and use the SEISS eligibility checker. There will be no requirement for taxpayers to wait for pins or codes through the post.  

Please encourage your clients to use the SEISS eligibility checker and get their Government Gateway credentials now if they don’t already have them. This will make applying for the grant quicker and easier when it is their time to apply.  

The application process  

When the application process goes live on 13‌‌ May, you can continue to support your clients although you cannot complete the claim on their behalf.  

The application process will show how HMRC has calculated the grant your client is due to receive. Your client will be able to share this calculation with you.  

If you, or your client, wish to seek a review of this calculation, you can do so on behalf of your client. It’s important to note that the checker has an extremely high accuracy rate as we use the data you or your client has previously provided us with.  

HMRC are seeking your support in helping clients to understand if they meet the criteria for SEISS. If you, or your client still wish to request a review, HMRC will look at their case from 18‌‌ May and will explain their eligibility by the end of May.  

Further information  

HMRC expect their phone lines to be very busy over the next couple of weeks so would really value your help in explaining the scheme to your clients and ensuring they understand the scheme. You can do this by visiting the guidance on GOV.UK which will provide you with most of the answers you or they need.  

Join a webinar to find out more - choose a date and time  

You can also join one of HMRC’s live webinars for further information about the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.  

The webinars will cover an overview of the scheme, who can claim, how much taxpayers may be entitled to, how to claim, what happens after taxpayers have claimed and other support available.  

Watch HMRC’s animation  

HMRC has created a short animation to show, step by step, how to use the checker. Please feel free to share this with your clients.  

Other help available  

There are a range of measures to support businesses and individuals at this difficult time. If your client is not eligible for a grant under this scheme, they may still qualify for other forms of help. HMRC is encouraging taxpayers and agents to visit GOV.UK to see what alternative support might apply.  

A word about scams  

HMRC are aware of an increase in scam emails, calls and texts. Eligible taxpayers will be invited to claim through GOV‌.UK – it is the only service they can use. If someone gets in touch with your clients claiming to be from HMRC, saying that financial help can be claimed or that a tax refund is owed, and asks them to click on a link or to give information such as their name, credit card or bank details, they should not respond. It is a scam.  

Suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC should be reported by sending them to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk. Texts should be sent to 60599.  

HMRC will be writing again later this week with further information ahead of the claim process opening. HMRC have also issued a Press Release about the scheme.