HMRC update: SEISS grant and tax relief for home-working

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HMRC’s bulletin for the beginning of April includes communications over SEISS and the payment of the new grant.

Separately HMRC has been reminding individuals how they can claim tax relief for homeworking.

Upcoming customer communications

HMRC have written to some customers where they need to make further checks on their eligibility after processing their 2019-20 Self Assessment returns. HMRC have been contacting these customers using the telephone number provided on their tax return, and HMRC have asked them to provide proof of identity (such as a valid UK passport or UK photo-card driving license) and evidence of trade (three months of bank statements from the business accounts for the 2019-20 tax year).

From mid-April, HMRC will also contact customers by email, letter or SMS if they believe they may be eligible for the fourth SEISS grant, providing them with their personal claim date. Customers can make their claim from this personal claim date in late April, until the claims service closes on 1‌‌ June 2021. Customers should not apply before their personal claim date, as it will not be processed. This is to ensure the system is fast and easy to use for everyone on their given date, and that telephone support continues to be available for those who need it most.

From mid-April, HMRC will also contact customers that have previously claimed SEISS support but are no longer eligible due to either:

  • not filing their 2019-20 Self Assessment return on or before 2 March 2021, or
  • not meeting the eligibility criteria when their filed 2019-20 return is taken into account.

Fourth SEISS grant eligibility

To be eligible for the fourth SEISS grant, self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) must:

  • Have submitted their 2019-20 tax return on or before 2 March 2021.
  • Have trading profits that are no more than £50,000 and at least equal to their non-trading income, based on their 2019-20 tax return or an average of relevant tax years between 2016-17 and 2019-20.
  • Declare that they intend to continue to trade and are either:
    • currently trading but are impacted by reduced activity, capacity or demand due to coronavirus, or
    • have traded previously but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus (If they’ve been abroad and have to stay in quarantine or self-isolate, this does not count).
  • Declare that they have a reasonable belief that there will be a significant reduction in their trading profits due to reduced business activity, capacity, demand or inability to trade due to coronavirus.

Getting ready to claim SEISS grants

Customers will be able to claim at any time from their personal claim date in late April until 1‌‌ June. In order to claim, they will need to log in to their Government Gateway account with their User ID and password. If they do not have a Government Gateway account (for example, customers who are newly self-employed), they should create one now to avoid delaying their claim.

To confirm their eligibility and make their claim, customers will need their: 

  1. National Insurance number: If the customer doesn’t know this, they can go to the HMRC app or access their online Personal Tax Account (PTA).
  2. Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number: Customers can find this on their Self Assessment papers or their PTA.
  3. Government Gateway user ID and password: To avoid delays, customers should ensure they check that they can log in to the Government Gateway before their personal claim date. If the customer doesn’t have an account, or has forgotten their details, they can follow the instructions on GOV.UK. Customers should also check that their contact details are correct in their Government Gateway account.
  4. Bank account number and sort code: For a building society account, customers should include the roll number, if they have one.

HMRC will also ask for the address that the customer’s bank or building society account is registered to. Please note this is the customer’s address – most likely their home or business premises – not the address of their bank or building society.

As with previous SEISS grants, agents cannot make a claim on behalf of their clients, or use their log in details, as this will trigger a fraud alert and result in significant delays to the customer receiving payment.

If a customer hasn’t claimed before

If this is a customer’s first time claiming a SEISS grant, they may be asked additional questions to prove their identity.

Questions could relate to any of the following:

  • their UK passport
  • information held on their credit file (such as loans, credit cards or mortgages)
  • their Self Assessment tax return (within the last three years)
  • their tax credit claim
  • their P60
  • one of their three most recent payslips.

Customers should ensure they have this information ready when making their claim. Their claim may be delayed if they cannot answer the identity verification questions.

All customers are required to keep appropriate records as evidence of the impact on their business. 

Claim working from home tax relief

Employees who may have additional household costs because they have to work at home on a regular basis –  either for all or part of the week – could benefit from tax relief. An obvious application is individuals who have been told to work from home because of coronavirus.

Additional costs include things like heating, metered water bills or business calls, that they can demonstrate have been incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily as a direct result of working from home. Costs that would stay the same whether they are working at home or not, do not qualify for tax relief.If employers don’t already reimburse employees for these additional costs, employees may be eligible to claim tax relief on them. Employees can claim quickly and simply using our online service, which is now open for claims that are for periods up to 5 April 2022.

They can check their eligibility and find out more about how to claim for ‘Claim tax relief for your job expenses’ on GOV.UK.

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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