HMRC Stakeholder Digest

8 Apr 2021

Please see the following message which we are sharing on behalf of HMRC.

This HMRC Stakeholder Digest provides a round-up of our latest news and updates, which we’d be grateful if you could share with your clients, customers or members.

The government has set up a dedicated support page where businesses can find the right support, advice and information to help with the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

Upcoming customer communications

We have written to some customers where we need to make further checks on their eligibility after processing their 2019-20 Self Assessment returns. We have been contacting these customers using the telephone number provided on their tax return, and we 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, we will also contact customers by email, letter or SMS if we 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, we 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.

We 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. 

March CJRS claims

The deadline for employers to submit March furlough claims is Wednesday‌‌ 14‌‌ April

As a reminder, the UK Government will continue to pay 80% of furloughed employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500 per month, to the end of June‌‌. In July, CJRS grants will cover 70% of employees' usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,187.50. In August and September, this will then reduce to 60% of employees’ usual wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will need to pay the difference from July, so that they continue to pay their furloughed employees at least 80% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work during this time, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

Employers must also continue to pay Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions on furlough pay.

What employers need to do now

  1. Check if they’re eligible and work out how much they can claim using our CJRS calculator and examples.
  2. Submit any claims for March no later than Wednesday‌‌‌‌ 14‌‌ April.
  3. Keep records that support the amount of CJRS grants claimed, in case HMRC needs to check them. ‌

Can a CJRS grant be used to pay for holiday leave?

If employers have furloughed employees because of the effects of coronavirus on their business, they can claim under the CJRS for periods of paid leave their employees take while on furlough, including for bank holidays. Employers should not place employees on furlough just because they are going to be on leave. 

If an employee is furloughed for only some of their hours, employers can count all time taken as holiday as furloughed hours, rather than working hours. This means employers can currently claim for 80% of their employee’s usual wages when they’re on leave.

In line with the Working Time Regulations, if a furloughed employee takes holiday employers should make sure they are calculating the correct holiday pay, and not simply continuing to pay the 80% they receive through the CJRS. They may need to top up their employees’ pay to 100% of their normal hourly rate or salary. More information  is available on GOV.UK.

VAT deferral new payment scheme – businesses can apply now to spread their payments  

Businesses that deferred VAT payments due between 20 March and 30‌‌ ‌June‌‌ ‌2020 and have been unable to pay in full by 31 March‌‌ ‌2021, can join the VAT deferral new payment scheme. 

Businesses can apply now to spread these payments over a number of months. 

Businesses that join by 21 April 2021 will be able to benefit from up to 10 instalments. The later businesses join, the fewer instalments are available to them. 

Businesses can join the scheme quickly and simply online without needing to call HMRC. More information , including the things businesses need to prepare before joining online, is available on GOV.UK. 

Businesses need to apply by 21‌‌ ‌June‌‌ ‌2021 if they want to join the scheme online.  

Where can customers get further support?

Many customers have benefitted from our webinars which offer information on the CJRS and SEISS, other government support and how it applies to them. Go to help and support if your business is affected by coronavirus  to book online, or to view updated guidance. If a customer booked on a webinar but can no longer attend, they should cancel their place where possible to allow space for others to register.

Live webinars offering support on the fourth SEISS grant will be available from 15‌‌ April. In addition to the webinars for customers, we will also provide some dates for webinars tailored for agents, to support them in supporting their clients. Further information on booking will be available in due course.

There’s also list of monthly claims deadlines and a helpful step by step guide  on GOV‌‌‌‌‌‌‌.UK, summarising the latest information on the CJRS and the steps employers need to take to make a claim. 

A word about scams 

As part of the Budget, the Chancellor announced a Taxpayer Protection Taskforce to tackle the minority who deliberately claim money they’re not entitled to. If fraud is suspected, it should be reported using our online form. More information can be found on GOV.UK. 

Stay vigilant about scams, which may mimic government messages as a way of appearing authentic. Information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact can be found on GOV.UK. Customers can also forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599.

Access the National Cyber Security Centre’s guide on how to stay secure online and protect yourself and your business against cyber crime.