You must tell HMRC if you need to repay a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant. This must be done within 90 days of receiving the grant, or within 90 days of amending your tax return.
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
SEISS was one of the government-backed Covid support schemes rolled out in May 2020. Self-employed people were invited to claim financial aid, if they held a reasonable belief that their business would be adversely affected by the pandemic. Sole traders and partners were able to claim five separate payments, with applications for the last payment closing on 30 September 2021. Applicants had to determine for themselves whether they met the eligibility criteria, particularly with regard to:
- Whether their business was ‘adversely affected’ by the pandemic, which was part of the criteria for the first and second grants; and
- Whether their business was ‘impacted by reduced activity, capacity or demand’ or unable ‘to trade in the relevant periods’, which was part of the criteria for the third, fourth and fifth grants.
The other eligibility criteria were based on things like trading status, tax returns and trading profits. Also, the sole trader or partner must have intended to continue trading in 2021 and 2022.
Now HMRC is saying that some people received SEISS payments when they were not eligible. This might have happened because:
- The business was not adversely affected by the pandemic when claiming the first and second grants
- The business was not impacted by reduced activity, capacity or demand or inability to trade in the relevant periods when claiming the third, fourth and fifth grants
- The sole trader or partner did not actually intend to continue trading
- The business has been incorporated
- The sole trader or partner received more money than HMRC said they were entitled to
- Tax returns have been amended on or after 3 March 2021, meaning the sole trader or partner was not actually eligible for the grant after all (or was eligible to a lesser amount)
- There was a mistaken when reporting turnover
If you are aware that you claimed SEISS when you were not eligible, or you received more than you should have, then you must tell HMRC. This must be done within:
- 90 days of receiving the grant; or
- Within 90 days of amending your tax return, which in turn has affected your eligibility to claim SEISS
You can check if you need to pay back a Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant on the gov.uk website. If HMRC requires further information, you will be asked to complete an online form. HMRC will then send a letter confirming if your grant has been affected, how much you need to pay back (if anything) and how to pay it.
If you do not self-report the mistake, HMRC will contact you in due course demanding that the grant be repaid, whether in part or in full. You may also have to pay a penalty. The only times you do not have to report the mistake to HMRC is where the grant amount:
- You are eligible for has lowered by £100 or less
- Was £100 or less
If you are not sure, you can report the error to HMRC anyway, or get expert advice from your accountant.
Did you claim SEISS?
Therefore, if you claimed SEISS over the past two years, it is worth checking the figures to make sure you have claimed the correct amount. If mistakes have been made, we urge you to report this to HMRC as soon as possible. Otherwise, it could prompt an HMRC investigation. Evidence of wrongdoing could result in a financial penalty, along with the repayment of the grant.
Contact us now
Our solicitors represent individuals and businesses who are facing an HMRC investigation.
If you would like to have a free confidential discussion with a member of our team, please either make a Free Request For Call Back or call us directly on 01908 414990 and we will be pleased to help you.