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HMRC answers pressing concerns as CJRS and SEISS deadlines loom

HM Revenue & Customs has addressed some frequently asked concerns regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme ahead of the upcoming claims deadline.

HMRC answers pressing concerns as CJRS and SEISS deadlines loom
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  • Staff Reporter
  • January 08, 2021
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In a recent email notice, HMRC Chief Executive and First Permanent Secretary Jim Harra reminded accountants and clients that they must submit any December claims no later than Thursday, 14 January.

First, accountants should check if their clients are eligible and work out how much they can claim using the CJRS calculator and examples by searching 'Job Retention Scheme' on GOV.UK.

Once a claim is submitted, accountants and clients are reminded to keep records that support the amount of CJRS grant claimed in case HMRC needs to check them.

If a client has already submitted a claim for December but they need to make a change because they didn’t claim enough, they can do this until Thursday, 28 January.

For clients seeking to amend a claim, they should search 'Get help with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme' on GOV.UK.

“You or your clients can claim before, during or after processing payroll. If you can, it’s best to make a claim once you’re sure of the exact number of hours employees worked so you don’t have to amend the claim at a later date,” Mr Harra said.

“As a reminder, the UK government will pay 80 per cent of employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500 per month, until the end of April 2021.”

Handling client information

If an accountant is submitting claims on behalf of multiple clients, HMRC said it’s really important to take care to use the right employer PAYE reference number, which HMRC uses to record claims.

To keep clients’ data safe, accountants should take extra care to check that the details entered relate to the client and specific payroll scheme they’re claiming for.

Third SEISS grant deadline

Further, the third grant of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) closes for claims on Friday‌‌, ‌29‌‌ ‌January. Eligible customers must claim on or before this date.

Accountants cannot claim on your clients’ behalf, as HMRC said this will likely trigger a fraud alert in its systems and delay payment.

However, HMRC said it will know that accountants are supporting clients to make their claims, and they can find all you need to know about SEISS, including eligibility criteria, on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK by searching 'Self-Employment Income Support Scheme'.

HMRC also answered some frequently asked questions regarding CJRS and SEISS in the email notice.

CJRS

Can I furlough an employee if they are unable to work due to caring responsibilities?

If an employee asks to be furloughed because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus, such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school or childcare facilities closing, you or your clients can place them on furlough and claim for them under the CJRS.

Can a CJRS grant be used to pay for holiday leave?

If employers have furloughed employees because of the effect of coronavirus on their business, they can claim under the CJRS for periods of paid leave their employees take while on furlough, including for bank holidays such as Christmas Day or Boxing Day. Employers should not place employees on furlough just because they are going to be on leave.

If an employee is flexibly furloughed, your clients can count any time taken as holiday as furloughed hours rather than working hours. This means you or your clients can claim 80 per cent of employees’ usual wages for these hours.

If a furloughed employee takes holiday, their employer should top up their pay to their normal rate in line with the Working Time Regulations. For more information search 'check if you can claim for your employees' wages' on GOV‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌.UK.

Can I include a Christmas bonus in my calculation for the grant?

You or your clients can claim for regular payments that you are contractually obliged to pay employees, including compulsory commission, fees and overtime. However, you or your clients cannot claim for discretionary commission, non-contractual bonuses (including tips) and non-cash payments. For more information search 'steps to take before calculating your claim' on GO‌‌‌V‌‌‌‌‌‌‌.UK.

SEISS

Is my client eligible for the third SEISS grant?

You can find all you need to know about SEISS, including the eligibility criteria for the third grant, on GOV‌‌.UK by searching 'Self-Employment Income Support Scheme'.

My client has lost their Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)/National Insurance Number (NINO)/Government Gateway user ID and/or password, what should they do?

During the SEISS online claim process, there are prompts for recovering lost UTR, NINO and Government Gateway credentials. Your clients should be able to get these details online without having to call HMRC.

What if my client’s business recovers after they’ve claimed the third grant?

If your client’s business recovers after they’ve claimed, their eligibility will not be affected as this is based on their reasonable belief that their trading profits would have been significantly impacted when they made their claim. Anyone who receives a grant must keep evidence in support of their claim, and we recommend you remind your clients to do so.

Should my client take into account the value of previous SEISS grants when deciding whether they can claim the third SEISS grant?

Your clients do not have to consider any other coronavirus scheme support payments they have already received when deciding whether they reasonably believe that they will suffer a significant reduction in trading profits. This reduction needs to be due to reduced activity, capacity, demand or inability to trade due to coronavirus during 1 November 2020 to 29‌‌ ‌January‌‌ ‌2021.   

Do I need to declare the grant on my client’s 2019-20 Self Assessment tax return?

Similar to the first and second SEISS grants, the third SEISS grant will also be subject to Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance. Alongside the first and second grants, the third grant should be reported on your clients’ 2020-21 Self Assessment tax returns (filing deadline 31‌‌ ‌January‌‌ ‌2022).

How can I find out more about the fourth SEISS grant?

We will contact you when details of the fourth SEISS grant are confirmed.

Where can I get further support?

There’s a list of CJRS monthly claims deadlines and a helpful step-by-step guide on GOV‌‌‌.UK, summarising the latest information on CJRS and the steps you need to take to make a claim – you can find these by searching 'Job Retention Scheme step-by-step guide'.

Thousands of people have joined and benefited from our live webinars which offer more support on changes to CJRS and SEISS, and how they affect you or your clients. To book online, or to view updated guidance, go to GOV‌‌‌‌‌‌‌.UK and search 'help and support if your business is affected by coronavirus'. If you’re booked on a webinar but no longer able to attend, please cancel your place where possible to allow space for others to register.

Our phone lines and webchat remain very busy, so the quickest way to find the support you need is on GOV‌‌‌‌.UK. This will leave our phone lines and webchat service open for those who need them most.

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