HMRC announces post-payment checks on Eat Out to Help Out scheme
HMRC has informed businesses they will soon be getting a letter asking them to check their Eat Out to Help Out claims.
HMRC is beginning to write to some 4,000 businesses, asking them to check their Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) claims, as it commences its post-payment compliance checks to recover money paid out incorrectly.
The EOTHO scheme saw more than 84,000 food and drink establishments take part and offer a 50 per cent discount on eligible purchases on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during August 2020.
HMRC worked quickly to set up a system to pay restaurants within five working days. Controls were built into the system to protect public money, which included limiting eligibility to food businesses registered with the relevant local authority by 7 July 2020.
As such, the tax authority will soon begin issuing letters to businesses that may have made an incorrect claim.
"Please review your records and your EOTHO claim. We understand that mistakes happen, so we have made sure it is easy for you to correct your claim if you need to. If you voluntarily repay any overpaid EOTHO payments, we will not charge you a penalty for the error in your claims," the HMRC said.
Claimants have 60 days to respond to the letter or the HMRC may start a formal compliance check. This, it warned, could include having to pay statutory interest and penalties.
"If your claims were not correct and you need to repay some or all of your EOTHO payments, you need to tell us. This is known as ‘making a disclosure’."
To complete the online disclosure form, businesses are instructed to visit www.gov.uk and search for ‘pay back Eat Out to Help Out payments’.
Some claimants may be asked to provide evidence of eligibility and their EOTHO calculations.
"We are supporting our customers while tackling serious fraud and criminal attacks. We understand mistakes happen, particularly in these challenging times. This means we will not look for innocent errors and small mistakes for compliance action," HMRC said.
HMRC's compliance approach follows the similar road it took to post-payment compliance for the Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.