I’m writing to you with the latest information about financial support schemes available to help your clients. This includes the latest on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the VAT deferral new payment scheme.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
To support you in helping your clients, here are the latest updates on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), including some of the upcoming customer contact and the full eligibility criteria.
Upcoming customer communications
We have written to some customers where we need to make further checks on their eligibility after processing their 2019-20 Self Assessment returns. We have been contacting these customers using the telephone number provided on their tax return, and we have asked them to provide proof of identity (such as a valid UK passport or UK photo-card driving license) and evidence of trade (three months of bank statements from the business accounts for the 2019-20 tax year).
From mid-April, we will also contact customers by email, letter or SMS if we believe they may be eligible for the fourth SEISS grant, providing them with their personal claim date. Customers can make their claim from this personal claim date in late April, until the claims service closes on 1 June 2021. Please let your clients know that applying before a personal claim date means it will not be processed. This is to ensure the system is fast and easy to use for everyone on their given date, and that telephone support continues to be available for those who need it most.
From mid-April, we will also contact customers that have previously claimed SEISS support but are no longer eligible due to either:
- not filing their 2019-20 Self Assessment return on or before 2 March 2021, or
- not meeting the eligibility criteria when their filed 2019-20 return is taken into account.
Thank you for providing invaluable support to your clients during these challenging times, particularly to potentially vulnerable customers who can also use our Extra Support Team.
Fourth SEISS grant eligibility
To be eligible for the fourth SEISS grant, self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) must:
- have submitted their 2019-20 tax return on or before 2 March 2021
- have trading profits that are no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income, based on their 2019-20 tax return or an average of relevant tax years between 2016-17 and 2019-20
- declare that they intend to continue to trade and are either:
- currently trading but are impacted by reduced activity, capacity or demand due to coronavirus, or
- have traded previously but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus (If they’ve been abroad and have to stay in quarantine or self-isolate, this does not count)
- declare that they have a reasonable belief that there will be a significant reduction in their trading profits due to reduced business activity, capacity, demand or inability to trade due to coronavirus.
Getting your clients ready to claim SEISS grants
Customers will be able to claim at any time from their personal claim date in late April until 1st June. In order to claim, they will need to log in to their Government Gateway account with their User ID and password. If they do not have a Government Gateway account (for example, customers who are newly self-employed), they should create one now to avoid delaying their claim.
To confirm their eligibility and make their claim, your clients will need their:
- National Insurance number: If your client doesn’t know this, they can go to the HMRC app or access their online Personal Tax Account (PTA).
- Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number: Your client can find this on their Self Assessment papers or their PTA.
- Government Gateway user ID and password: To avoid delays, pleaseensure your clients check that they can log in to the Government Gateway before their personal claim date. If your client doesn’t have an account, or has forgotten their details, they can follow the instructions on GOV.UK by searching ‘HMRC services: sign in or register’. Please also ensure your client checks that their contact details are correct in their Government Gateway account.
- Bank account number and sort code: For a building society account, your client should include the roll number, if they have one.
We will also ask for the address that your client’s bank or building society account is registered to. Please note this is your client’s address – most likely their home or business premises – not the address of their bank or building society.
As with previous SEISS grants, you cannot make a claim on behalf of your clients, or use their log in details, as this will trigger a fraud alert and result in significant delays to your client receiving payment. We are grateful for your continued support in helping your clients to understand the eligibility criteria, and for getting your eligible clients ready to submit their claims personally.
If your client hasn’t claimed before
If this is your client’s first time claiming a SEISS grant, they may be asked additional questions to prove their identity.
Questions could relate to any of the following:
- their UK passport
- information held on their credit file (such as loans, credit cards or mortgages)
- their Self Assessment tax return (within the last three years)
- their tax credit claim
- their P60
- one of their three most recent payslips.
Please ensure your client has this information ready when making their claim. Their claim may be delayed if they cannot answer the identity verification questions.
All customers are required to keep appropriate records as evidence of the impact on their business.
March CJRS claims
Thank you if you have submitted your clients’ March furlough claims already. If you haven’t submitted them yet, you must do so by the deadline of Wednesday 14 April.
As a reminder, the UK Government will continue to pay 80% of furloughed employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500 per month, to the end of June. In July, CJRS grants will cover 70% of employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,187.50. In August and September, this will then reduce to 60% of employees’ usual wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will need to pay the difference from July, so that they continue to pay their furloughed employees at least 80% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work during this time, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
Employers must also continue to pay Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions on furlough pay.
What you or your clients need to do now
- Check if they’re eligible and work out how much they can claim using our CJRS calculator and examples.
- Submit any claims for March no later than Wednesday 14 April.
- Keep records that support the amount of CJRS grants claimed, in case HMRC needs to check them.
Can a CJRS grant be used to pay for holiday leave?
If employers have furloughed employees because of the effects of coronavirus on their business, they can claim under the CJRS for periods of paid leave their employees take while on furlough, including for bank holidays. Employers should not place employees on furlough just because they are going to be on leave.
If an employee is furloughed for only some of their hours, employers can count all time taken as holiday as furloughed hours, rather than working hours. This means employers can currently claim for 80% of their employee’s usual wages when they’re on leave.
In line with the Working Time Regulations, if a furloughed employee takes holiday employers should make sure they are calculating the correct holiday pay, and not simply continuing to pay the 80% they receive through the CJRS. They may need to top up their employees’ pay to 100% of their normal hourly rate or salary. You can find more information on GOV.UK.
VAT deferral – apply now to spread your payments further
The VAT deferral new payment scheme is open for all businesses who deferred paying VAT due between 20th March and 30th June 2020 and have been unable to pay in full by 31st March 2021.
Your clients can apply now to spread these payments over a number of months – businesses that join by 21st April 2021 will be able to benefit from up to 10 instalments.The later businesses join, the fewer instalments are available to them.
Businesses can join the scheme quickly and simply online without needing to call HMRC. To find out more information, including the things your clients need to prepare before joining online, go to GOV.UK.
Businesses need to apply by 21st June 2021 if they want to join the scheme online.
Claim working from home tax relief
Employees may have additional household costs if they have to work at home on a regular basis, either for all or part of the week. This includes having been told to work from home because of coronavirus.
Additional costs include things like heating, metered water bills or business calls, that they can demonstrate have been incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily as a direct result of working from home. Costs that would stay the same whether they are working at home or not, do not qualify for tax relief.
If your client doesn’t already reimburse their employees for these additional costs, employees may be eligible to claim tax relief on them. Employees will receive the quickest response if they apply on the HMRC online service, which is now open for claims that are for periods up to 5 April 2022.
Find out more about eligibility, and how employees can claim on GOV.UK.
Where can I get further support?
Many agents have benefitted from our webinars which offer information on the CJRS and SEISS, other government support and how it applies to your clients. Go to help and support if your business is affected by coronavirus to book online, or to view updated guidance. If you’re booked on a webinar but can no longer attend, please cancel your place where possible to allow space for others to register.
Live webinars offering support on the fourth SEISS grant will be available from 15 April. In addition to the webinars for your clients, we will also provide some dates for webinars tailored for agents, to support you so that you can support your clients. Further information on booking will be available in due course.
There’s also list of monthly claims deadlines and a helpful step by step guide on GOV.UK, summarising the latest information on the CJRS and the steps you need to take to make a claim.
Protect yourself from scams
As part of the Budget, the Chancellor announced a Taxpayer Protection Taskforce to tackle the minority who deliberately claim money they’re not entitled to. If you suspect fraud, please report it using our online form. Go to GOV.UK and search ‘Report fraud to HMRC’ for more information.
Stay vigilant about scams, which may mimic government messages as a way of appearing authentic. Search ‘scams’ on GOV.UK for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact. You can also forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to email@example.com and texts to 60599.
Access the National Cyber Security Centre’s guide on how to stay secure online and protect yourself and your business against cyber crime by searching ‘Cyber Aware’ on GOV.UK.
I hope this information helps you and your business, and we’ll continue to keep you updated.
Jim Harra, Chief Executive and First Permanent Secretary – HMRC