The Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) launched last year to help self employed individuals who were unable to work has been popular but flawed. And now penalties will be issued for up to 100% of the support received to those who have abused the scheme.
We understand this scheme was put together on the spur of the moment, when the Government once again overlooked the UK’s substantial self employed workforce, and that it had to be easy to process. As such anyone newly self employed was excluded from the support – this was the scheme’s largest failing.
However those who became self employed in 2019-20 tax year have been able to access the most recent support after submitting their self assessment tax returns. This late correction of the scheme will have provided a little relief for those originally excluded, but it still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, as these individuals have had to endure some very hard times indeed.
The recent update has, unfortunately, also opened up the scheme to fraudulent claims. Basically anyone could have submitted their 2020-21 tax return and said they had a self employed income negatively affected by the pandemic when they didn’t. In this way they would have been able to fraudulently claim the latest (4th) grant from the government.
If you’ve received a grant that you don’t need or aren’t entitled, or part thereof, you need to notify HMRC as soon as possible and re-pay that money. This could have happened if easing restrictions have allowed you to get back to work. Of course, it is also possible to have made a mistake on your claim and claimed for too much. If this has happened to you you will have 90 days after the SEISS grant is received to contact HMRC and payback the excess. Mistakes rectified within 90 days will not be subject to the penalties.
You should carefully check how much money has been received and HMRC can assist you in paying back the correct amount depending on your circumstances.
If you have made a wholly fraudulent claim there really is nowhere to hide, this is considered deliberate and concealed fraud. Call HMRC and rectify this with them immediately.