As HMRC contacts taxpayers who may be eligible for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) and the application portal opens, ICAEW's Tax Faculty outlines how the process works.
Emails, SMS messages and letters have been sent to taxpayers who HMRC thinks may be entitled to claim an SEISS grant. These were sent during the week beginning 4 May 2020, some letters may not have been received until the following week.
Each taxpayer received one form of contact:
- where HMRC holds an email address it used that;
- SMS was used where HMRC holds a mobile number, but not an email address; and
- a letter was sent where HMRC holds neither.
|Note that to guard against fraud the emails and SMS messages from HMRC do not include active links. If a taxpayer receives an email or SMS purporting to come HMRC which includes an active link, that email or SMS is a scam.|
This initial contact explained what the taxpayer needs to do to be ready to claim when the claims portal opens.
HMRC contacted all those who may be eligible, but not all recipients will in fact be eligible. HMRC has selected the cases based on the information in the self assessment tax returns filed by the taxpayers and has carried out the necessary calculations and eligibility checks based on those figures. However, HMRC does not necessarily know whether the taxpayer meets the following conditions of the scheme:
- traded in the tax year 2019/20;
- intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020/21; and
- carry on a trade which has been adversely affected by coronavirus.
HMRC is providing an eligibility checker to allow taxpayers to check whether HMRC believes they may be eligible for a grant.
The eligibility checker is available on gov.uk and is open to anyone to use, not just those who have been contacted by HMRC.
The taxpayer enters their self assessment UTR and national insurance number and the checker confirms whether HMRC believes they may be eligible. The taxpayer does not need to enter any information about their income. The checker does not require the taxpayer to log in to their government gateway account but, in the background, it looks at the tax return information held on HMRC’s system to provide a result. The checker does not give any information about the amount of grant available.
The checker tells potentially eligible taxpayers when they can make a claim (the dates and times are randomly allocated by HMRC to manage demand on the system). The taxpayer is then presented with an option to either log in to their government gateway account or to create one. They are then asked to confirm or provide their contact details including email address.
The eligibility checker can be used by agents who know their client’s self assessment UTR and national insurance number.
Creating a government gateway ID
Taxpayers who already have a government gateway ID which gives access to HMRC’s self assessment services will be able to use that ID when applying for their SEISS grant.
Those who do not have a government gateway ID are prompted to create one when they use the eligibility checker and, if they do not do so, as the first step of the application stage. The Tax Faculty advice is that at the eligibility checker stage is the preferred option to avoid delays.
When creating an ID through the SEISS service, the taxpayer is asked to verify their identity by providing details from their driving licence photocard or their UK passport. Taxpayers without either of these documents will be asked for a piece of financial information, for example, the date they set up a mobile phone contract.
When a government gateway ID is created as part of the SEISS service there is no requirement for an authentication code (PIN) to be sent in the post.
Taxpayers who need to create a government gateway ID to claim an SEISS grant are advised to do so through the SEISS service, rather than through any other route on gov.uk, to ensure the correct type of ID is set up and to avoid the need for an authentication code in the post.
How to apply
Applications open to taxpayers on a staged basis between 13 and 18 May, with the portal opening on different days for different taxpayers. HMRC is sending reminder emails to taxpayers who have provided an email address (when using the eligibility checker or previously) to confirm when the portal is open for them or may send an SMS message. Taxpayers can also use the eligibility checker at any time to check whether the application portal is now open for them.
Taxpayers then log in to their government gateway account (or select the option to create an account) to complete the application process. They are presented with a calculation of the amount of the grant and are asked to:
- read and accept the eligibility criteria;
- complete a declaration, including to confirm that the business has been adversely affected by coronavirus; and
- supply the bank account details into which they would like the grant to be paid.
The taxpayer does not need to provide any information about their income – the calculations are all done by HMRC based on the tax returns submitted. HMRC will check the claim and expects to make payments by 25 May 2020 or within six working days of the application being submitted.
There is, at the moment, no deadline by which claims must be submitted.
Taxpayers should keep a copy of the calculation and a record of the claim reference number. It is also important to keep evidence that the business has been adversely affected by coronavirus, such as:
- business accounts showing a reduction in turnover;
- confirmation of any coronavirus-related business loans;
- dates the business had to close due to lockdown restrictions; or
- dates the taxpayer or their staff were unable to work due to coronavirus symptoms, shielding or caring responsibilities due to school closures.
How to request a review of entitlement
Taxpayers may wish to request a review of their entitlement to an SEISS grant because:
- HMRC’s eligibility checker says they are not eligible and they wish to dispute their SEISS eligibility status, or
- they disagree with the amount of the grant calculated by HMRC and wish to dispute the SEISS award amount. The taxpayer can only claim the amount of grant calculated by HMRC; there is no option in the application process to claim a higher or lower amount.
A taxpayer or their agent can ask for a review of SEISS eligibility status via the eligibility checker. If the checker gives a not eligible result there is an option to compete an online form to request a review of eligibility. The first question on the form is ‘Are you an agent?’ and either the taxpayer or agent can proceed from there to request a review of eligibility status.
A taxpayer or their agent can request a review of the SEISS award amount using an online form.
Agents should use their own agent portal government gateway sign in details and then complete the online form on behalf of their client. They will need:
- their client’s grant claim reference;
- their client’s national insurance number;
- their client’s UTR; and
- details about why they think the amount is wrong.
Taxpayers can access the online form to request a review during the claims process or afterwards, using their own government gateway sign in details.
HMRC’s guidance should be checked before requesting a review.
If the taxpayer is not satisfied with the outcome of a review they, or their agent, should follow HMRC’s complaints process. There is no right to make a formal appeal – decisions on the award of a grant are not decisions on a tax matter that can be appealed to the tax tribunals.
Those who are digitally excluded and unable to claim online can make claims by phoning HMRC’s SEISS helpline.
The HMRC adviser will talk the taxpayer through the calculation over the phone when the claim is made; the adviser has access to the same screens and calculation shown to taxpayers claiming online.
The HMRC adviser can go back to the calculation after the claim has been submitted and, on request, will send a printout of the calculation and the claim to the taxpayer.
Role of agents
Agents can use the eligibility checker and can request reviews of not eligible cases and cases where the amount of the grant is believed to be incorrect. HMRC has not been able to give agents access to make claims on behalf of clients.
|HMRC is warning taxpayers that they must make the claim themselves. If an agent or adviser attempts to make a claim on behalf of a client this will trigger a fraud alert and the taxpayer will have to contact HMRC. This will cause a significant delay to payment.|
Help and support
The key function of HMRC’s SEISS helpline is to provide support to those unable to make claims online. The helpline is available for other SEISS related queries, but demand is likely to be high and it should be used only where it has not been possible to resolve queries or request a review using the online systems and guidance.
HMRC has asked that webchat be used in preference to phoning, to help it manage demand.
- Claim a grant through SEISS
- How HMRC works out trading profits and non-trading income for the SEISS
- How different circumstances affect SEISS
- Self employed invited to get ready to make their claims for COVID-19 support
- Video: Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme
- Video: SEISS using the eligibility checker
- Video: SEISS - how to make a claim step by step
ICAEW Know-How from the Tax Faculty
This guidance is created by the Tax Faculty, recognised internationally as a leading authority and source of expertise on taxation. The Faculty is the voice of tax for ICAEW, responsible for all submissions to the tax authorities. Join the Faculty for expert guidance and support enabling you to provide the best advice on tax to your clients or business.
HMRC support on SEISS
HMRC's phone line should only be used where it has not been possible to resolve queries using online support. HMRC asks that webchat be used.
Support for ICAEW members
The best way to contact ICAEW for real-time support is via live web chat. (Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm, Wednesday: 10am to 5pm)