Follow our how-to guide to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme
The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will allow the self-employed or a member of a partnership to claim a taxable grant of 80% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months and capped at £7,500 in total.
What ACCA members can do
- You can use the HMRC online tool to check if clients are eligible or not. You will need the client’s unique tax reference (UTR) Number and national insurance (NI) Number.
- Agents will be able to discuss with HMRC eligibility for their clients if the online tool shows that they are not eligible but you disagree with this decision.
- If your client is eligible but does not have a Government Gateway ID, you can support them in creating one.
- You can provide clients with the details that they may require for the creation of their Government Gateway ID – for example, UTR and NI numbers.
- You can calculate the amount of grant based on the submitted self-assessment tax returns, using HMRC's guidance. Further examples of grant calculations are also provided.
- You can support clients virtually by telephone or video-conferencing to explain the steps for the claim.
- You can prepare the clients by providing information on the questions that will be asked when the portal is open for the grant claim, ie:
- self-assessment UTR and NI number
- bank account and sort code (only provide bank account details where a BACS payment can be accepted)
- confirmation that the business has been adversely affected by coronavirus.
The business could be adversely affected by coronavirus if, for example:
1. The client is unable to work because they:
- are shielding
- are self-isolating
- are on sick leave because of coronavirus
- have caring responsibilities because of coronavirus
2. They’ve had to scale down or temporarily stop trading because:
- their supply chain has been interrupted
- they have fewer or no customers or clients
- their staff are unable to come in to work
Additionally, you can advise that the SEISS grant is taxable and class 4 NIC is payable on this and will be reported on 2020/21 tax return. The grant will be treated as part of their self-employed income for 2020/21 for working tax credits or universal credit. It is also subject to state aid limits.
HMRC will provide a calculation of how it has worked out the grant, which your client should be able to print and pass on to you for checking/discussion.
If you, or your client, wish to seek a review of HMRC’s calculation, you can do so on their behalf by logging on to your agent gateway account and submitting the online form available there using your client’s details.
Make sure that the firm has an engagement letter in place for these ad hoc services. ACCA's standard tax engagement letter does normally cover any support provided to clients from time to time.
Make sure that the firm has full professional indemnity (PI) cover in place to meet any potential future claims.
Make sure that you document all the conversations and support in writing for future reference. HMRC’s guidance states that you must retain records of the claim for a period within the normal self-employed record-keeping requirements, including:
- the amount claimed
- the claim period
- the claim reference number
- evidence that the client’s business has been adversely affected by coronavirus
Ask your clients to retain records for:
- business accounts showing a reduction in turnover
- confirmation of any coronavirus-related business loans received
- dates their business had to close due to lockdown restrictions
- dates where they or their staff were unable to work due to coronavirus symptoms, shielding, school closures.
To help out a family member or a friend who is not your client, you may register as a trusted helper.
Beware of scams!
As with all other support measures currently in place, the risk of scams is high. It is therefore crucial to inform clients that if they receive any texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, offering financial help or a tax refund and asking them to click on a link or to give personal information, it is most likely to be a scam. They should email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and then deleted.
What ACCA members can't do
ACCA members must not in any shape or form be involved or provide any advice that results in falsifying or misrepresenting any facts to tax authorities for the claim of the grant. ACCA guidance on members' responsibilities and reporting obligations can be seen within Technical factsheet: professional conduct in relation to taxation.
ACCA members must not access a client's online account to claim this grant. Any members accessing a client’s Government Gateway can trigger a fraud alert, which will result in delays to receiving payment.
If your clients are finding it difficult to claim or are being affected due to any alerts, advise them to contact HMRC on 0800 024 1222 or through its webchat.
The claims service is opened from 13 May 2020. Once the claim is submitted by eligible customers, HMRC is aiming to pay the money into their bank account by 25 May, or within six working days of completing a claim.