Payments to begin in May for Self-employment Income Support Scheme

HMRC will start contacting self-employed people this week, as the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEIS) will come online on 13 May.

AAT understands that first payments could be made before the end of May.

However, a key decision to enable the early launch is that agents will not be given access to make applications on their clients’ behalf.

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A new eligibility-checker tool has been launched today, following the publication of new guidance on eligibility on 1 May. This will also assign a date between 13 May and 18 May after which an individual will be able to make their application. Funds will be paid into their bank account within six working days of submission.

The Government believes around 95% of those who earn the majority of their incomes from self-employment will be eligible for the SEIS. They could receive grants of up to £7,500, including back-dating.

HMRC to contact self-employed

This week HMRC began contacting people who are likely to be eligible, through a combination of emails, SMS texts and letters, to tell them what they need to do to get ready to claim.

Applications will open in tranches based on the unique taxpayer number (UTR) given to all self-employed taxpayers.

Eligibility tool launched

If the eligibility-checker confirms that they are eligible (and they qualify due to being affected by coronavirus and because they intend to continue trading), they will be given a date when they can use the online service to make a claim from 13 May.

The scheme will allow customers to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500, equivalent to three months’ profits.

Customers can claim if they’re a self-employed individual, or a member of a business partnership, their business has been adversely impacted by coronavirus and they:

  • traded in the tax year 2018 to 2019 and have submitted their Self-Assessment tax return for that year on or before 23 April 2020
  • traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
  • are trading when they apply – if they’ve temporarily stopped trading because of coronavirus they will still be classed as trading by HMRC
  • intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021.

Their trading profits must also be no more than £50,000, and at least half of their total income for either:

  • the tax year 2018 to 2019; or
  • the average of the tax years 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018, and 2018 to 2019.

HMRC urges agents to help their clients to use the eligibility checker themselves, or if necessary, to use the checker on their behalf, and then help them understand the result, including recommending other sources of support if they are not eligible.

To use the eligibility checker the customer/their agent they will need their: 

  1. Self-Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)  
  2. National Insurance number 

Government Gateway account workaround

HMRC has been exploring ways to manage applicants who do not have a Government Gateway account. AAT understands that the online process will allow two alternatives:

  • Passport number
  • Driving license number

Reaction

Commenting on the latest developments, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:

“SEISS is one of the most generous self-employed support schemes announced by any government in response to coronavirus.”

“Let me put on record my gratitude to HMRC who have been working night and day to build the SEISS system from scratch. This follows the recent launch of the Coronavirus Job Retention (furlough) Scheme which has also been delivered ahead of schedule.”

Coronavirus updates

David Nunn is Content Manager at AAT.

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