HMRC are said to be contacting taxpayers who have met all the eligibility requirements for the fourth Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant, over the next three weeks.
SEISS Grant 4 is to cover the period from 1 February 2021 to 30 April 2021 and will be open to those who actively traded during the 2019 and 2020 tax years, as evidenced by their self-assessment tax returns.
SEISS Grant 4 extends to those who also filed their 2019-20 tax returns by Budget day on 3 March.
Applicants must declare as part of the process that they intend to continue trading in 2021 and that they suffered a significant drop in trading profits because of the pandemic.
Here Come the Checks
Self-employed people have had to jump through several hoops to claim financial support during the pandemic.
Aside from the original threshold of earning more than 50% of their income from self-employment (up to a maximum of £50,000 a year), some claimants for the next round of grants have had to respond to HMRC verification emails checking that they meet all the qualifying criteria.
As part of these pre-checks HMRC has been ringing some potential claimants to make further eligibility checks such as proof of identity and evidence of trade. The latter check will be based on sight of three months’ worth of business bank statements from the 2019-20 tax year.
Once it has run those final checks, HMRC said it will start sending out notices to claimants advising them of the date (in late April) from which they can log their claims for the next round of funding. They will be able to file their claim at any time from that date in late April until the 1 June 2021.
As with previous SEISS grants, agents will not be able to claim the grants on behalf of clients using their government gateway log-in details. HMRC have warned that any claims made this way will trigger a fraud alert and result in significant delays to you receiving payment.
From mid-April, HMRC said it will start informing taxpayers who previously claimed SEISS support but are no longer eligible.
Caution from HMRC
HMRC are undertaking these checks to help reduce the number of claims being paid out to fraudsters.
HMRC has selected a proportion of newly self-employed to do pre-claim checks because they did not want to slow people down once the grant portal opens.
Fraud prevention was also why agents are not allowed to claim as that would have prevented HMRC from blocking fraudulent multiple claims.
HMRC is continuing to tweak the criteria and processes for SEISS claims to channel financial support to the people who need it. For the fifth grant covering April to June, the grant will be linked to amount the trader’s turnover has gone down.
One thing to bear in mind for SEISS claimants who may have missed the deadline for providing the required evidence is to get back in touch with HMRC. If you work with them in the meantime, they may reinstate valid claims.
We stress that all self-employed individuals read and consider their circumstances in line with the eligibility criteria before making a claim. You will be required to repay any grants, plus potential for penalties or worse, if any incorrect claims are paid out to non-eligible claimants.