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Extra checks for newly self-employed applying for SEISS grant

16 March 2021

The fourth SEISS grant will be open to those who became self-employed in the 2019/20 tax year but there will be extra hoops to jump through for some.

The fourth SEISS grant will be open to some 600,000 taxpayers who started working for themselves in 2019/20. However, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has warned that HMRC will write to up to 100,000 of these freelancers, asking them to complete pre-verification checks to confirm their identity and provide evidence of trade.

It says these taxpayers will receive a letter by mid-April 2021, notifying them that they will receive a phone call from HMRC within ten working days. On the call, HMRC will ask the taxpayer to confirm their email address and agree to receive a link to a secure Dropbox. They will then have two days to upload one form of identity and three months' worth of bank statements to demonstrate their business activity, before the link expires.

Taxpayers who receive the letter but do not complete the checks will not be able to claim a grant. HMRC has said it will make three attempts to phone. Any taxpayer that needs to make sure HMRC has the correct telephone number for them should contact 0800 024 1222. If HMRC is unsuccessful in reaching the taxpayer, they will write a further letter.

ICAEW's Tax Faculty has said that it fears many taxpayers, particularly the digitally excluded, will have difficulty completing these verification checks and it is in discussions with HMRC.

At the Spring Budget, chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that the fourth SEISS grant will be set at 80% of three months' average trading profits, paid out in a single instalment, capped at £7,500.

Self-employed workers who have submitted their 2019/20 tax returns will be eligible, including those that became self-employed in that tax year. To be eligible for the fourth grant you must be a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership; your trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to your non-trading income. The online claims service for the fourth grant will be open from late April until 31 May 2021.

The UK government has also announced a fifth and final grant covering May to September 2021. Eligible taxpayers will be able to claim from late July; the amount of the fifth grant will be determined by how much their turnover has been reduced in the year April 2020 to April 2021.

Written by Rachel Miller.

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