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Lack of agent access to the SEISS ‘disappointing’

5 May: HMRC’s decision not to allow agents to make claims on behalf of clients for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is disappointing, but agents still have an important role, says ICAEW’s Tax Faculty.

Update 7 May: HMRC has updated the government gateway ID process and the Tax Faculty's guidance is now to set up an ID through the eligibility checker. Read more

Following confirmation of the application process for SEISS, the Tax Faculty has confirmed that ICAEW, along with other bodies had pressed HMRC for agents to be included in the process and recognises that members will be “very disappointed” that they are unable to make claims for their clients.

The Tax Faculty understands that HMRC considered the issue of agent access, but the need to make payments as soon as possible resulted in HMRC taking the decision that claims would have to be made by the taxpayer only. However, and unlike the job retention scheme, HMRC will be making the calculations for the claims rather than the taxpayer or their agent, with the result that claiming under the scheme should be much simpler.

Agents still have a potentially important role in helping their clients with SEISS. Agents can use the newly built eligibility checker on behalf of their clients and can also request a review if the checker gives a ‘not eligible’ result when the agent thinks that they should be eligible. Clients may also want help with understanding the calculation.

The Tax Faculty advises against clients setting up a new government gateway ID in advance of making an application, but instead doing so as the first step in the application process. This will ensure that the correct type of credentials are set up and avoids the need to wait for an authorisation code in the post (that this requirement is suspended for those that set up government gateway credentials as part of the SEISS service).

HMRC will be providing a telephone-based application service for the digitally excluded, further details are awaited.

HMRC has advised that agents should not use client credentials to apply for grants on behalf of clients and that doing so may trigger HMRC fraud checks and delay payment of the grant.