The practicalities of making a Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) claim
The SEISS is going to be a key part of the financial support that the Government, via HMRC, will provide to many self employed people to help get through the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 and the lockdown.
As has been widely discussed, not all self-employed people qualify for SEISS. And the claims for financial support have to be made by the individual seeking support, not by a third party such as a tax adviser. We have set out some of the practical aspects claimants will need to be aware of.
The online checking tool – does ‘no’ really mean ‘no’?
The online tool that has been made available by HMRC allows self-employed people to check on whether HMRC think that they are eligible for a payment under SEISS. To use the online checking tool, you will need your Unique Tax Reference number and your National Insurance Number (the system checks HMRC’s records to cross reference to whether their systems suggest you qualify).
If the system says you do qualify, then you can start preparing the information you need to make a claim. However, if the system says you do not qualify, and you believe that you do, there is a “human” appeals process. Bear in mind that it may be very busy and you may want a tax adviser to assist you with showing why you think you do qualify.
If you are eligible, you will need to set up an account on the government gateway and go through the claim process.
Set up prior to making a claim (this should take less than 10 minutes)
You will need to set yourself up on the HMRC website via their eligibility checker.
You will then need to choose a password and enter a mobile number or landline – this number will be used to provide you with a code to verify your account.
You will need to verify your identity using a driving licence or passport. If these are not available, you will be asked to verify other financial information.
You will not be sent anything via post as you will be verifying your account using your mobile or landline.
The claim process will be open in phases between the dates 13th – 18th May. You will be given the date that you’re able to make your claim when checking your eligibility. There is currently no end date to make a claim, but it is recommended that a claim is made as soon as possible.
When making your claim you will require the following Information:
- Unique Taxpayer Reference Number (UTR)
- National Insurance number
- Government Gateway number (This is provided after the initial set up)
- Bank account details
You will need to confirm the following:
- That you traded in the 2019/20 tax year
- That you intend to continue trading in the 2020/21 tax year
- That your business has been adversely affected by COVID-19 (see below)
- If you are non UK-resident and a remittance basis user, your UK Trading profits are at least equal to your other Worldwide Income.
By applying for SEISS you are confirming the above.
You will then be given an instant response with the amount that you’re able to claim and how this has been calculated. You should take a screenshot of this for your records as you are not likely to be provided with this information again. Payment should then be made to you within 6 days.
The condition that your business has been “adversely affected” is not financially tested and also considers the wider circumstances. Some factors other than the financial ones are as follows:
- You are not able to work (i.e. social distancing, sick or you need to care for others)
- The trade has temporarily stopped
- Staff cannot work
If you disagree with either HMRC’s judgement on your eligibility or the amount claimable, you are able to request that HMRC review your circumstances. If you disagree with the amount you’re able to claim, you should still go ahead and claim the amount HMRC are currently saying you’re eligible to and then request that the amount is reviewed. You’re able to request the review via a link provided on the final screen of the claim.
You should keep the following for your records:
- Calculation of the grant (i.e. the screenshot mentioned above)
- Claim reference (this is given on the final screen)
- Evidence that the business has been adversely affected by COVID-19
Unfortunately, there has been an increase in scam emails, calls and texts. Eligible customers will be asked to claim through the Gov.uk website. If someone else contacts you claiming to be from HMRC, do not provide them with any personal or financial information.