HMRC to block future SEISS grants, if query on account, and no reply

HMRC has written to around 24,000 self employed individuals who have claimed the SEISS but also ended their Self Employment.

If you are one of the individuals who ended Self Employment and claimed a SEISS grant, you will be required to repay any amount paid in error – the SEISS is designed only for those who have maintained or plan to continue trading after the CV19 pandemic.

The first tranche of letters were issued on 15 November and required the (previously) Self Employed individual to confirm back if they had ended self employment, or if they had continued to trade. Where any self employment had ceased, the amount provided by HMRC would be required to be repaid.

HMRC have confirmed that penalties and charges will apply if anyone has claimed incorrectly, or if an incorrect amount had been paid.

A copy of the email from HMRC is below, providing guidance on next steps – if you’ve received this email, please contact HMRC as listed.

The email from HMRC in full

Dear [claimant],
The purpose of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is to help self-employed individuals and members of partnerships who have been adversely affected by coronavirus.
To be eligible for SEISS all these conditions must apply:
1. You traded in the tax year 2018 to 2019 and submitted your Self-Assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for that year
2. You traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
3. You intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
On your tax return for either 2018 to 2019 or 2019 to 2020 you indicated that you had stopped trading. This means you were not eligible to receive a grant and will need to repay the money you received.
Please refer to the FAQs below if you need more guidance on what this means.
What you need to do now
Please review your SEISS grant application by 20 November 2020.
If you do not complete either action 1 or 2 outlined below by this date, we may start a formal compliance check. This may mean you have to pay a penalty and statutory interest.
Action 1
If you did not trade in both tax years 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020 and did not intend to continue your trade in 2020 to 2021:
You do not meet the requirements to claim a SEISS grant. You must:
• Go to gov.uk and search ‘Stopped trading SEISS’.
• Complete the online form.
• You do not pay at this point. We will contact you to tell you how to pay what you owe.
Action 2
If you did trade in tax years 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020 and intended to trade in 2020 to 2021:
If you have not stopped trading and believe your SEISS grant was correct, you must:
• Make sure you are registered for Self-Assessment.
• Make a return by the filing date. Include SEISS grant as income.
• Go to gov.uk and search ‘Stopped trading SEISS’.
• Complete the on-line form.
• There is no need to provide evidence, but we may contact you at a later point to verify the information.
More information
Our phone lines are very busy. To find help and further information:
1. Go to gov.uk and search ‘check if you can claim a grant through the self-employment income support scheme’
2. Email us at seisscomplianceteam@hmrc.gov.uk and protect your information by following the guidance below.
If you cannot find the support you need by these two routes, then call the COVID helpline on 0800 024 1222
Protect your information when using email
We take the security of personal information very seriously. Email is not secure, so it’s very important that you follow our advice on staying secure when emailing us.
The main risks associated with using email that we need you to consider are:
• Confidentiality and privacy – there’s a risk that emails may be intercepted and read by someone else
• Confirming your identity – it’s very important that we only communicate with the right people using their correct email addresses
• Security – there’s no guarantee that emails have not been intercepted and changed before being delivered
• Attachments – these could contain a virus or malicious code
Using email to respond to this email means that you understand and accept these risks.
If you email us at seisscomplianceteam@hmrc.gov.uk, please:
• Send the email from your business email address
• Do not include any financial information or attachments
• Include
the SEISS grant claim periods that you intend to disclose
the SEISS claim reference number(s)
FAQs
What is a trade?
If you are trading you would have filled in the self-employment pages on your Self-Assessment tax return (whether trading in your own right, or in a partnership).
What do we mean by trading in the tax year?
You must have carried on a trade in tax years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. It is not enough to trade in one year and not the other.
This doesn’t have to be the same trade. For example, you could be a hairdresser in tax year 2018 to 2019, and a car mechanic in tax year 2019 to 2020. But you needed to have traded in both years.
There is no need for you to have traded for the full tax year. You could have stopped a trade on 5 February 2019 (for example to have a baby) and then restarted the trade on 28 March 2020. This would meet the criteria of carrying on a trade in both tax years.
There is no need for two different trades to immediately follow each other, if a trade is carried on in each tax year.
When does a trade stop?
A trade stops when you do not intend to reopen or restart trading again. It does not stop if you only close temporarily or still intend to continue.
For example, if you shut your shop during the height of the first lockdown (as it was a non-essential shop) this would not necessarily mean you stopped trading. It could be temporary and just mean the shop was closed, the same as if someone closed for two weeks to go on holiday. You would only have stopped trading if you did not intend to reopen.
What do we mean by intend to continue a trade?
If at the time you made the claim for the SEISS grant you were intending to continue a trade in tax year 2020 to 2021 then you meet this requirement. This applies even if you still have not traded or no longer plan to, for example due to a change in circumstances since you claimed.
A word about scams
We are aware of an increase in scam emails, calls and texts. If someone gets in touch claiming to be from HMRC, saying that financial help can be claimed or that a tax refund is owed, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, please do not respond.
You can forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and texts to 60599.
Yours Sincerely
SEISS Compliance Team

HMRC Website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme#what-happens-next

Further reading: https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/tax/business-tax/hmrc-to-block-seiss-grants-where-no-reply