Covid-19: help for self employed launches

HMRC has begun contacting around 3.5m taxpayers who may be eligible for the government’s self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) to explain the application process and help them get ready to make a claim when the service opens next week

The claims service is due to be operational on Wednesday 13 May, with payments reaching bank accounts by 25 May, or six working days after the claim is made.

An online checker is now available which will let taxpayers check their eligibility for themselves, as well as giving them a date on which they can apply. Individuals will need their unique taxpayer reference (UTR) and National Insurance number and should ensure their details are up-to-date in their government gateway account.

SEISS is a temporary scheme that will enable those eligible to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 (equivalent to three months’ profits) in a single instalment.

Taxpayers are eligible if their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus, they traded in 2019-20, intend to continue trading and they meet three criteria.

These are earning at least half of their income through self-employment; having trading profits of no more than £50,000 per year; and trading in the tax year 2018 to 2019, having submitted their self assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for that year.   

HMRC is using information that individuals have provided in their 2018-19 tax return – and returns for 2016-17 and 2017-18 where needed – to determine their eligibility and is contacting customers who may be eligible via email, SMS or letter.

Where individuals are ineligible for the scheme, HMRC will direct them to guidance setting out the conditions to help them understand why they are ineligible, and advice about other support that might be available to them, such as income tax deferrals, rental support, Universal Credit, access to mortgage holidays and the various business support schemes the government has introduced to protect businesses during this time.   

HMRC warns it expects support phone lines to be very busy over the next few weeks as people enter this new scheme, so is encouraging taxpayers to only call if they cannot find what they need on GOV.UK, from their tax agent or via HMRC’s webchat service.

Online check service

Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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