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SEISS: an update before applications open
by Anne Smith

Before the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) portal opens for applications we set out below some updates and reminders about the SEISS scheme.

Eligibility checker

HMRC's eligibility checker went live on 4 May and is available to taxpayers and to agents. We understand that, in a small number of cases, the checker is giving an incorrect not-eligible result. This mostly affects those who filed paper returns that have not yet been captured in the HMRC system, or those who only recently filed their 2018/19 self-assessment return. HMRC is updating the system and those who may be in this situation should keep trying the checker.   We are happy to help you if you require assistance.

The eligibility checker prompts you to log in to or to create a government gateway account and to check or provide contact details. We recommend that if you do not already have a government gateway account, you should create the account via the SEISS service rather than through any other route on gov.uk, because this will be quicker and easier, and to ensure the correct type of ID is set up for you.  

If you complete these steps you should ensure that HMRC notifies you of when you can claim, so you are ready to claim once the portal opens.

When to claim a SEISS grant

There is, at the moment, no specific deadline for making claims for SEISS grants. Individuals are likely to be keen to claim the payment as soon as possible, but those who claim universal credit may be better off if you delay the claim so that the receipt falls into a later monthly assessment period.

Reviewing a grant

During the application process you are presented with a calculation of the amount of the grant. You do not need to enter any figures or information about your income. There is no option to claim an increased or reduced amount of grant. Instead you should claim the amount of the grant as calculated by HMRC but request a review, via the link provided, if you think that the amount should be higher or lower. 

The eligibility criteria

May we remind you of the importance of checking that you meet the eligibility criteria which are:

  • you traded in the tax year 2018/19 and submitted your 2018/19 self assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020;
  • you traded in the tax year 2019/20;
  • you intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020/21; and
  • you carry on a trade which has been adversely affected by coronavirus.

Meaning of 'adversely affected'

HMRC has provided some guidance on the meaning of 'adversely affected'.  This includes being unable to work because you are shielding, self-isolating or you are on sick leave or have care responsibilities because of coronavirus. It also includes scaling down or temporarily stopping trading because the supply chain has been interrupted, the business has fewer or no customers, or staff are unable to work. 

The lack of any specific, measurable reductions in income is intentional. You should keep evidence of the impact on your trade, but there is no link between the amount of the grant and the financial loss. 

The scheme specifically allows a claim where the trade has continued, so long as the trade is 'adversely affected'. During the application process, you will be asked to confirm that you meet the eligibility criteria.

Risk of scams

Finally, please be vigilant.  The risk of scam emails and texts purporting to be from HMRC is high. The genuine emails and texts from HMRC do not include active links. You should check eligibility or make claims by searching on gov.uk for Self-employment Income Support Scheme or SEISS.