Business

Make sure you are ready to make a Self-Employment Income Support claim

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Malachy McLernon

QUESTION: As a self-employed person, how can I make a Self-Employment Income Support (SEISS) claim under the government grant scheme?

ANSWER: From May 4, HMRC started contacting self-employed individuals who may be eligible for a cash grant in respect of SEISS ahead of being able to make claims for the grant from May 13.

HMRC will contact you either by email, text or letter, but be careful when dealing with any electronic communication. HMRC has said its communications will not contain active links to guard against fraud. If you receive an email or text which appears to be from HMRC and it includes an active link, do not click on it as the email or text will be a scam.

HMRC anticipate claims may be made on a staged basis between May 13 and 18, with the SEISS claim portal opening on different days for different taxpayers. HMRC says the claims process will be simple, and those eligible for SEISS should have the funds paid into their bank account by May 25, or within six working days of completing their claim.

There are three important steps that the self-employed person needs to take to ensure they are ready to make their claim and receive their cash grant as quickly as possible.

HMRC has confirmed that your accountant is not authorised to make SEISS claims on your behalf so if you do not have a personal tax account, you must create one to be able to apply for a SEISS grant.

In order to create your own personal tax account you need to do the following :

1: You will need to register with the Government Gateway, which usually takes about 10 minutes. As you will be asked to confirm your identity to create your tax account, you should have the following information to hand:

• Your National Insurance number;

• Your Self-Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference number;

• A recent payslip or P60 or a valid UK passport.

2: HMRC is contacting everyone it thinks may be eligible to make a claim, based on information it already holds. However, not everyone who is contacted will be entitled to a grant. For example, HMRC will not always know if you meet all conditions for the scheme such as whether you have traded in the current tax year. In order to meet the criteria, you must meet the following conditions:

• Traded in tax year 2019/20;

• Are trading when you apply, or would be except for Covid 19;

• Intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020/21; and

• Have lost trading profits due to coronavirus.

HMRC has provided an eligibility checker to help you confirm whether you are eligible or not and you enter your Self-Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference and National Insurance number in the relevant boxes. The HMRC checker will then confirm whether you are eligible for SEISS.

You do not need to enter any information about your income and the checker will not advise the amount of grant available. You will also be asked to provide an email address for further correspondence including advising you when you may make a claim.

3: Due to expected high demand for SEISS claims, HMRC will be staging applications and the portal to do so will be available on different days for different taxpayers.

Once you know if you are eligible you will need to log in to your Government Gateway account (www.gov.uk/personal-tax-account).

To make your claim, you will need your:

• Self-Assessment UTR

• National Insurance number

• Bank account number and sort code you want HMRC to pay your grant into.

When you have logged in, you will be presented with information about how your grant has been calculated and be asked the following:

• Read and accept the eligibility criteria

• Complete a number of declarations, including to confirm that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus

• Supply the bank account details into which they would like the grant to be paid

HMRC will check claims and take appropriate action to withhold or recover payments found to be dishonest or inaccurate. Once you have submitted your claim, you will be told straight away if your grant is approved. HMRC will pay your grant into your bank account within six working days.

HMRC advise you must keep a copy of all records in line with normal self-employment record keeping requirements, including:

• The amount claimed

• The claim reference number for your records

• Evidence that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus

Should you have any queries with setting up your personal tax account, your accountant or tax advisor will be able to help you.

:: Malachy McLernon (m. mclernon@pkffpm.com) is a director of PKF-FPM (www.pkffpm. com). The advice in this column is specific to the facts surrounding the question posed. Neither The Irish News nor contributors accept any liability for any direct or indirect loss arising from any reliance placed on replies.

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