Help for self-employed launches

Updated 5 May 2020

HMRC has begun contacting around 3.5m taxpayers who may be eligible for the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) to explain the application process and help them get ready to make a claim when the service opens next week.

The claims service is due to be operational on Wednesday 13 May, with payments reaching bank accounts by 25 May, or six working days after the claim is made.

SEISS is a temporary scheme that will enable those eligible to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 (equivalent to three months’ profits) in a single instalment.

Taxpayers are eligible if their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus, they traded in 2019-20, intend to continue trading and they meet the following three criteria.

  • earning at least half of their income through self- employment 
  • having trading profits of no more than £50,000 per year; and 
  • trading in the tax year 2018 to 2019, having submitted their self-assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for that year.   

HMRC is using information that individuals have provided in their 2018-19 tax return – and returns for 2016-17 and 2017-18 where needed – to determine their eligibility and is contacting customers who may be eligible via email, text or letter.

HMRC’s guidance on particular circumstances is now in a separate guide which covers:

  • Returns which are late, amended or under enquiry
  • Partnerships
  • Parental leave
  • Loan charge cases
  • Averaging relief
  • Non-residents and those who claim the remittance basis
  • Further detail concerning state aid limits

HMRC has also published a guide to how it establishes eligibility and calculates the grant.

Application process

The SEISS application portal will open to taxpayers on a staged basis between 13 and 18 May, with the portal opening on different days for different taxpayers (the day is randomly allocated by HMRC, it is not first come, first served). Taxpayers then log in to their government gateway account (or select the option to create an account) to complete the application process. Note that HMRC calculates the grant from its records and at no stage does the taxpayer have to provide any information about their income.

If the taxpayer does not already have a government gateway account, it can be created here. There will be an alternative telephone-based service for the digitally excluded, full details are awaited.

HMRC will check the claim and expects to make payments from 25 May 2020 or within six working days of the application being submitted, whichever is the later.

Where individuals are ineligible for the scheme, HMRC will direct them to guidance setting out the conditions to help them understand why they are ineligible, and advice about other support that might be available to them, such as income tax deferrals, rental support, Universal Credit, access to mortgage holidays and the various business support schemes the government has introduced to protect businesses during this time. 

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