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Three days to save your SEISS grant

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If taxpayers don’t respond to HMRC’s email by 22 March they will be prevented from making further SEISS claims and may face an enquiry into the grants already received.

18th Mar 2021
Tax Writer Taxwriter Ltd
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HMRC sent this email to a number of established self-employed traders on 26 February 2021, asking them to prove that they are still trading, before they can claim the next two SEISS grants.

Tax agents were not copied in to the email, so accountants may be unaware that their clients have been contacted in this way. The taxpayer may also have missed this important message as HMRC is not in the habit of sending emails directly to taxpayers.

The specific HMRC email about the SEISS grant is not detailed under ‘emails’ in the list of genuine HMRC contacts, so it's unsurprising that taxpayers will have considered it to be yet another scam.  

However, it is important that the taxpayer reacts quickly, as if HMRC does not receive a response by Monday 22 March, the trader will be blocked from receiving further SEISS grants. HMRC has also threatened to open a formal compliance check (a tax enquiry) into the taxpayer’s tax affairs where no response is received to this single email. 

Conditions for SEISS

To be eligible for any of the SEISS grants the self-employed taxpayer must have traded in all of the tax years: 2018/19 to 2020/21. If the trade commenced after 5 April 2019, and the taxpayer submitted their tax return, including profits from that trade, by midnight on 2 March 2021, they are potentially eligible for the fourth SEISS grant.

However, in all cases the taxpayer must have continued to trade up to the point they applied for the SEISS grant, or that have been temporarily prevented from trading due to the coronavirus restrictions. The taxpayer must be intending to continue to trade as a self-employed individual once the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

Tax return trigger

HMRC has checked the self-assessment tax returns for 2018/19 and 2019/20 for indications that a trade has ceased. Where a box has been ticked on the tax return to that effect, and the trader has also claimed an SEISS grant, they will have received the email from HMRC on 26 February 2021.

Reasons for ceasing

The “trade has ceased” box may be been checked on the tax return for several reasons, including:

  • a partner left the business, changing the business structure from a partnership to a sole trader – the remaining business owner should continue to qualify for the SEISS.
  • one trade has ceased but the taxpayer started a new business in 2018/19 or 2019/20 – the taxpayer should qualify for the SEISS grant even if there was a period of no trading between the two businesses.
  • the business was incorporated – the taxpayer will not qualify for SEISS as that scheme is not open to companies.

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Replies (24)

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By Paul Crowley
18th Mar 2021 13:41

All recent HMRC interventions are threats
New traders
Repayment claims
And now this

What kind of a State do we live in that acceeds to threats being made to honest traders and keeps quiet about it, no publicity and no copies to tax agents

Aweb live with Rebecca and Paul yesterday suggests that HMRC are not REALLY trying to take agents out of the process
But everything they do suggests otherwise

Thanks (9)
Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Paul Crowley
19th Mar 2021 09:33

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/compliance-check-what-docume...

Add this

Have HMRC not got a smartsearch capability?

Thanks (0)
Chris M
By mr. mischief
18th Mar 2021 19:05

See my other recent posts on the gutter level HMRC ethics have reached. I am afraid I am no longer prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. If it were just mind-blowing blundering incompetence that would be bad enough. I think it's more than that, right at the top there is a policy of dishonesty, bad faith and swindling.

The idea that I would say that about Revenue and Customs in 1991 when I qualified is laughable. What a tawdy, cheap journey to the bottom our tax authority embarked on when it became HMRC.

Thanks (9)
blue sheep
By Nigel Henshaw
19th Mar 2021 07:04

So, the taxpayer has told HMRC they have ceased trading which means they do not qualify for the grants, and yet HMRC are going out of the way to double check that?
Not sure why I see any need to bash HMRC for that, quite the opposite in fact

Thanks (3)
Replying to NH:
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By bosclibby
19th Mar 2021 09:39

Quite right - surely this is what HMRC should be doing - checking into those who advised they had ceased trading but have then claimed grants
We had one ourselves who we persuaded to repay the 1st grant he incorrectly claimed...to be honest I'm glad this is one thing HMRC stopped Agents doing for clients. Apart from (yet more) work just imagine the time "debating" with clients whether they're entitled to claim as each claim opens...at least now it's them making the decision where it's debatable if they're eligible

Thanks (1)
Replying to NH:
By Duggimon
19th Mar 2021 09:43

Per the article, there are multiple reasons why the box could be ticked including some that have nothing to do with cessation of trade. That is a failing of the tax return form, which is HMRC's.

The response to this ambiguous box being ticked on a form sent to HMRC by a registered tax agent, is to reply to the taxpayer directly with not a peep to the agent, and potentially remove someone from the needed state support despite them having carried on their struggling trade without interruption and having reported as such on all forms filed with HMRC.

I can see some grounds for criticism.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Duggimon:
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By Paul Crowley
19th Mar 2021 12:07

More than one trade for example

Thanks (0)
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By AndrewV12
19th Mar 2021 09:42

HMRC never target the right businesses, always the little guy never the large fraudsters.

Thanks (2)
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By OrmeGoat
19th Mar 2021 09:48

I presume HMRC will confirm that all letters and emails received by them are replied to within the same timescale.

(All pigs fed and watered and ready to fly)

Thanks (6)
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By Ken Moorhouse
19th Mar 2021 10:10

Scammers presumably taking advantage of this worrying email sent me an email on 22nd Feb with the subject "Your Self-employed Grant for March 2021 has been Approved."
The sender is shown as H.M.R.C, but when you look more closely it is from [email protected].
The body of the email says:-
===
Hello,

If you're self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) you are eligible to claim a grant.

Government is giving a grant between 2,500 pounds and 7,500 pounds
if you are a tax payer.

You must download the form attached to this email and fill out the required
information to complete approval for your grant claim.

UK GOV

© All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0, except where otherwise stated .
===
The attached file is very dodgy and *must not be opened*. I have looked at it and it is asking for name, address, date of birth, NI number, driving licence details, passport details, tax payer reference, bank account details.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Ken Moorhouse:
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By Paul Crowley
19th Mar 2021 18:43

So they have seen the contents and requests being made by the just as dodgy HMRC

Thanks (0)
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By karishma94
19th Mar 2021 10:12

what happens if a client hasn't received an email from HMRC. These clients would have registered for self employment after 5th April 2019.

Thanks (1)
Replying to karishma94:
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By Paul Crowley
19th Mar 2021 12:10

I would expect an awful lot went to junk
HMRC NEVER used email
Always clearly a scam

If they use emails out then time they accepted emails in

Thanks (1)
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By Ken Moorhouse
19th Mar 2021 10:22

My comment warning about a scam email I received on 22 Feb was, I feel useful to this discussion, yet has been removed.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Ken Moorhouse:
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By Paul Crowley
19th Mar 2021 12:12

Add it again would be good
Any warning about scams should be important to this site

Thanks (1)
Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Ken Moorhouse
19th Mar 2021 17:29

Paul Crowley wrote:

Add it again would be good
Any warning about scams should be important to this site


It now appears (in pink), but I've repeated it below. The point is that non-technical people might not be able to distinguish between genuine emails and those that are fake. If someone opens the attachment on a similar email to the email I received then the scammers have everything needed to impersonate that person. Yet being suspicious of that genuine email could be very detrimental. (Of course, this will be well-known on this forum, but just thought I'd share it as it was just after HMRC's email was sent).

Scammers presumably taking advantage of this worrying email sent me an email on 22nd Feb with the subject "Your Self-employed Grant for March 2021 has been Approved."
The sender is shown as H.M.R.C, but when you look more closely it is from noreply.hmrc2(at)securesuite.uk.
The body of the email says:-
===
Hello,

If you're self-employed or a member of a partnership and have been impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) you are eligible to claim a grant.

Government is giving a grant between 2,500 pounds and 7,500 pounds
if you are a tax payer.

You must download the form attached to this email and fill out the required
information to complete approval for your grant claim.

UK GOV

© All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0, except where otherwise stated .
===
The attached file is very dodgy and *must not be opened*. I have looked at it and it is asking for name, address, date of birth, NI number, driving licence details, passport details, tax payer reference, bank account details.

Thanks (0)
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By Ammie
19th Mar 2021 10:31

HMRC have been fraying at the edges for a while and the forthcoming digital changes will highlight more issues do our mental health no good at all!

The significance of such letters warrant firmer communication method. The cynic in me feels like it's almost as if they do not want a response!

I have almost given up contacting them in many instances as most of the time I am left with just the cost of the phone call, (which in my opinion should be free anyway), and no resolution.

All problems arising out of Covid, I'm sure!

Thanks (1)
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By anniem
19th Mar 2021 11:31

So I spend my life telling clients "HMRC don't send important emails" then when they finally decide to catch up with technology Agents are excluded from the process.

Just why do HMRC think people appoint Agents? It's because clients don't want to, or know how to, deal with HMRC.

HMRC should be ashamed of how they are blocking Agents from helping clients with this! It just isn't good enough and needs investigating.

Thanks (5)
Replying to anniem:
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By Southwestbeancounter
19th Mar 2021 11:44

Agreed.

And their incompetence needs to be out in the public domain more - as soon as it appears it seems to be shut down and never makes mainstream news! Clients just think we make a fuss about having to wait an hour to get through on the 'ADL' and 16 weeks for a letter to be answered!

Thanks (2)
Replying to Southwestbeancounter:
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By Paul Crowley
19th Mar 2021 12:15

When I got through
HMRC person at other end stated that the agent line is just put through to the standard client lines
WE ARE NO LONGER RELEVANT TO HMRC

Thanks (1)
Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Southwestbeancounter
19th Mar 2021 12:35

Sadly we haven't been relevant for some years now! :-(

I've heard some horror stories of how they refer to agents internally! Don't know why because if they helped us to do our job we could help them to do theirs and everyone's life would be that little bit easier rather than constant antagonism!

Thanks (2)
Replying to Southwestbeancounter:
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By Hugo Fair
19th Mar 2021 15:56

"Sadly we haven't been relevant for some years now!"

It's worse than that ... the rot set in nearly 10 years ago when policy-makers within HMRC decided that there was little practical (and no moral) difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion. Once this culture took root, it became evident that Agents were (by default) assumed to be encouraging tax avoidance (aka tax planning) and were thus categorised as untrustworthy (or 'the enemy').

This lead to plans for HMRC to take on the mantle of policing Agents - such that, without public procedure or means of appeal, Agents would be assigned a 'level'. Those with halos would be given all the support requested but, moving down the chain, some facilities would be made unavailable and eventually some 'routes' closed - until the bottom-most were reached who would basically be prevented from carrying out any Agent activity.

The mechanism for all this was seen to be the digitisation of tax collection (before MTD had been whispered) and was supported by the Cabinet Office. It then ran foul of 'politics' post-Cameron and is currently kyboshed ... but there are still pockets of senior supporters within HMRC.

Without wishing to sound like a typical conspiracy theorist ... it is no coincidence that ADL has been 'lost' or that the Agents Forum resembles a tumbleweed strewn desert or that the moans about HMRC on this site are reaching a crescendo!

Thanks (1)
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By HazelDH
21st Mar 2021 10:46

After reading all the messages, still no clear, is the email a scam or not? None of my clients have received one to my knowledge.

Thanks (0)
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By HazelDH
21st Mar 2021 10:46

After reading all the messages, still no clear, is the email a scam or not? None of my clients have received one to my knowledge.

Thanks (0)