The chancellor announced a support scheme for the self-employed on 26 March 2020 and based on the updated guidance issued on 29 May 2020 including details of the extension of the scheme, we have set out below an outline of how the scheme works.
Who will qualify for the Scheme
In order to qualify for the scheme, you must be a self-employed individual or a partner in a trading partnership and you must:
- have submitted a Tax Return for the tax year ended 5 April 2019 before 23 April 2020.
- have traded during the tax year ended 5 April 2020
- are trading when you apply or would have been trading except for COVID 19
- intend to continue to trade in the tax year ended 5 April 2021
- your business has been adversely affected by Coronavirus, for example if:
- you are unable to work because you:
- are shielding or self-isolatin
- re on sick leave because of Coronavirus
- have caring responsibilities because of Coronavirus
- you’ve had to scale down or temporarily stop trading because:
- your supply chain has been interrupted
- you have fewer or no customers or clients
- your staff are unable to come in to work
- You will not be able to claim a grant if you’re above state aid limits or operating a trade via a trust.
You can check if you are eligible using HMRC online checker at https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/self-employment-support/enter-unique-taxpayer-reference
HMRC have stated that you will need to confirm that your business has been adversely affected by Coronavirus and that they will as usual use a risk based approach to compliance. We do not know what form of compliance checks this will take, but we would expect you would need to demonstrate your sales were adversely affected during this period; however, the scheme still allows you to work.
HMRC will use the data from your Tax Returns already submitted to identify if you are eligible and contact you to inform you of the date you will be able to make a claim and when the online service will be available.
In addition, if you have traded during the tax years 2016/17 to date then you will need to meet the following criteria to be eligible to make a claim:
- your trading/partnership profit in the year to 5 April 2019 is less than £50,000 and these profits are more than or equal to your non-trading income or
- your average trading/partnership profits for the years ended 5 April 2017, 2018 and 2019 are less than £50,000 and the total trading profits over the three years are more than or equal to non-trading income over the same period.
If you have made a loss in a year this will be included in the average calculation, but the use of losses which arose on your 2016 and earlier tax returns will not be included.
If you are a farmer the profits used will be prior to any claim for farmers averaging relief.
There are variations on the rules if you have not traded for the entire three-year period, please see HMRC’s detailed guidance at How HMRC works out trading profits and non-trading income for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
What level of grant will I receive?
For the first grant HMRC will pay you 80% and for the second grant 70% of your average monthly profits over the tax years stated above up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for 3 months. You do not need to have claimed the first grant in order to claim the second grant.
For example, for the first grant if your self-employment income was your sole income source and your profits were as follows:
- 2016-17 – £30,000
- 2017-18 – £24,000
- 2018-19 – £36,000
- Average Annual Profits – £30,000
- Average Monthly Profits – £2,500
- One month’s grant based on 80% of average monthly profits – £2,000
HMRC have updated their guidance and examples of how they will work out your trading and total income at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-hmrc-works-out-total-income-and-trading-profits-for-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme
This grant will form part of your taxable profits for the 2020-21 tax year, it will also count as income for tax\universal credit purposes and will be paid directly into your bank account in one instalment. This is expected to be in June, but they will work as quickly as possible to see if they can speed this up.
How to apply
In order to check if you are eligible for a grant, you can use and register your interest using HMRC online checker at https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/self-employment-support/enter-unique-taxpayer-reference
For the first grant you are able to apply now to apply here and you have until 13 July 2020 to make the claim. The portal for the second and final grant is not yet available, but is expected to be live in August. If you are eligible for a grant HMRC will inform you of the date you can make your claim from. Once your claim has been approved you will receive payment within 6 working days. You do not need to contact HMRC and if you are unable to claim online you should contact HMRC for guidance.
In order to claim you will need your:
- Self-Assessment UTR – You can normally find this on your Self-Assessment Tax Return or communications from HMRC.
- National Insurance number
- Government Gateway user ID and password – please note this is your personal ID and not necessarily the one you use for business purposes. If you do not have a personal account, you will need to set one up and we recommend that you do this as soon as possible in order to access the claim process.
- Bank account and sort code for the payment to be made to.
- Confirm to HMRC that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus.
The payment of the grant will count as State Aid and will need to be included, if applying for any other funding classed as State Aid.
The grant is classed as taxable income and will need to be included on your 2020/21 Self-Assessment Tax Return and as income for any Universal or Tax Credit claims you make.
What other Support is available
Other support available to the Self-Employed is as follows: