After unprecedented spending in support of businesses and individuals, we can now see the tide turning and HMRC looking for monies to be returned in certain circumstances. As the applications portal for the third round of the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) opens during week commencing 30 November, we are aware that HMRC has sent emails to some taxpayers who have claimed SEISS grants in the past, asking them to confirm if they have stopped trading.
Those who have ‘permanently ceased’ are asked to complete an online form to respond to these emails. The statements made in the form will need to confirm that the taxpayer has either ceased trading, or that HMRC’s information is incorrect - the taxpayer did not permanently cease trading or has become active after a temporary hiatus.
Taxpayers who have made previous SEISS claims needed to confirm the eligibility criteria were met, including trading in 2019/20 and with an intention to trade in 2020/21. It may be that some taxpayers have submitted their 2019/20 tax returns showing a ‘trade cessation’.
If that is the true position, then those taxpayers are requested to complete the dedicated HMRC form by Friday 20 November for grants received before 22 July 2020, or they will not be able to make a further claim under the SEISS scheme and will need to repay the grant. Those who received the letter and received grants after 22 July 2020 need to make the notification within 90 days of receiving the grant. Even if the form is complete, further SEISS claims may still be delayed while the necessary checks are made.
There will be a large cohort of taxpayers who only temporarily stopped trading, perhaps due to supply chain interruptions, few customers, employee reactions to the pandemic, cancelled contracts.
If you receive a letter or email from HMRC and require advice on your eligibility, get in touch with your usual Crowe contact.