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SEISS guidance and eligibility checker

Courtesy of The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)

4 May: HMRC has updated its guidance on the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) which now includes an eligibility checker. HMRC has also started to contact eligible taxpayers.

ICAEW guidance on the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), developed by the Tax Faculty, can now be found all in one place. The guidance includes a detailed guide to the application process.

Updates to guidance

HMRC’s guidance has not changed substantially since the previous versions. The changes include:

  • Information on what is meant by a business being adversely affected by coronavirus. This includes being unable to work because the taxpayer is shielding, self-isolating or is on sick leave or has care responsibilities because of coronavirus. It also includes scaling down or temporarily stopping trading because the supply chain has been interrupted or the business has fewer or no customers.
  • Confirmation that trusts are not eligible to claim.
  • Confirmation that taxpayers should not make a claim if other support received has already reached the state aid limits or the claim would cause the limits to be breached.
  • Confirmation that the grant can be claimed by individuals on all categories of work visa.

HMRC’s guidance on particular circumstances is now in a separate guide which covers:

  • Returns which are late, amended or under enquiry
  • Partnerships
  • Parental leave
  • Loan charge cases
  • Averaging relief
  • Non-residents and those who claim the remittance basis
  • Further detail concerning state aid limits

HMRC has also published a guide to how it establishes eligibility and calculates the grant.

Application process

HMRC has now provided more information on the application process and timing.

From 4 May 2020, HMRC is contacting those self-employed individuals it believes are entitled to claim for a SEISS grant. HMRC is also providing an eligibility checker which is available to anyone, including agents and those who have not been contacted by HMRC.

The SEISS application portal will open to taxpayers on a staged basis between 13 and 18 May, with the portal opening on different days for different taxpayers (the day is randomly allocated by HMRC, it is not first come, first served). Taxpayers then log in to their government gateway account (or select the option to create an account) to complete the application process. Note that HMRC calculates the grant from its records and at no stage does the taxpayer have to provide any information about their income.

If the taxpayer does not already have a government gateway account, the ICAEW recommends waiting to create one until the first step of the application process (this avoids the possibility of setting up a government gateway account that is enrolled for the wrong services and the requirement for an authentication code in the post). There will be an alternative telephone-based service for the digitally excluded, full details are awaited.

HMRC will check the claim and expects to make payments from 25 May 2020 or within six working days of the application being submitted, whichever is the later.

Role of agents

The ICAEW has pressed HMRC on allowing agents to claim on behalf of clients, but this has not proven possible – giving agents access would have delayed the delivery of this one-off application service. Agents can use the eligibility checker and request a review for those that the checker says are not eligible and the client will be able to send a copy of the calculation to the agent to review.