Who checks whether HMRC is right about your eligiblity for SEISS and the amount of your payment?

If you are self-employed and have submitted your 2018/19 tax return, HMRC will determine if you are eligible to receive a payment under the Self Employment Income Support Scheme – SEISS. They will also calculate the amount of the payment.

Your single payment, which will cover March, April and May will be made in early June.

HMRC will be the ones determining if you are eligible and the size of your payment, according to their published eligibility guidelines and calculation methods.

In summary, they will consider whether you traded in 2019/20, planned to trade in 2020/21, lost trading profits due to coronavirus, whether your trading profit was below £50,000 and it represented more than half of your total income for 2018/19 or the average of the three tax years ending 2018/19. If they determine that you are eligible for the grant, they will then calculate the payment.

According to our regulatory body – The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales ICAEW – there will be a need for processes which allow accountants to check, query and dispute calculations on behalf of our clients and to query eligibility where HMRC has not been in contact with clients who feel they are eligible.

The ICAEW are in discussion with the Treasury on these points.  The ICAEW also raises the issue of compliance. What kind of checks will HMRC do post payment, regarding eligibility criteria of continuing to trade in 2019/20 and intention to trade in 2020/21?

Finally, all commentators and HMRC are warning taxpayers to be on their guard regarding scams around all government support schemes, especially SEISS.

To date, we are expecting that HMRC will contact taxpayers they believe to be eligible by mid-May and they will invite them to make a claim, via the GOV.UK online service. Taxpayers will need to access this service with their Government Gateway or Gov.UK Verify details. Please be alert to the danger of scams.

Government Guidance on claiming a grant includes this warning:

“You will only be able to claim using the GOV.UK online service. If you receive texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, offering financial help or a tax refund and asking you to click on a link or to give personal information, it is a scam.”

Earlier blog posts on SEISS