Self-employed income support – latest update

When is the SEISS going live

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

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

How will HMRC contact you ? 

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, for example, a client was asked to reply with their UTR number. 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. 

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.

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.

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.

HMRC has advised that agents should not use their clients’ credentials to apply for grants on behalf of clients and that doing so may trigger HMRC fraud checks and delay payment of the grant.

There will be a telephone-based SEISS grant application service for the digitally excluded to use, but HMRC has not released any details of that yet.

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