HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has begun contacting customers who may be eligible for the government's Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), recently announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Those who are eligible will be able to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their average trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500 (equivalent to three months' profits), paid in a single instalment.
HMRC is also inviting customers, or their agents, to go online and check their eligibility for SEISS.
In order to receive quick confirmation from the eligibility checker, the government said individuals should have their unique taxpayer reference (UTR) and their national insurance number ready, and make sure their details are up-to-date in their ‘government gateway' account.
Individuals are eligible if their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus, if they traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020 and intend to continue trading. They need to earn at least half of their income through self-employment; have trading profits of no more than £50,000 per year; traded in the tax year 2018 to 2019 and submitted their self assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for that year.
HMRC is using information that customers have provided in their 2018 to 2019 tax return - and returns for 2016 to 2017 and 2017 to 2018 where needed - to determine their eligibility and is contacting customers who may be eligible via email, text message or letter.
The government also announced that it claim service will open on 13 May, ahead of its originally planned timetable. Money is to be paid into bank accounts by 25 May, or within six working days of completing a claim, it added.
The announcement came as the government also launched its new bounce back loans to allow Britain's small businesses to apply for fast-track loans of up to £50,000.
Personal Finance Society chief executive Keith Richards welcomed the support measures. "The economic crisis we are in the midst of is unprecedented and has already affected businesses and individuals significantly, so we commend any measures which can ensure as few people as possible fall between the cracks and get access to much needed support quickly."
The PFS' parent body CII has urged its members to make full use of them if needed to ensure they can continue to provide their services.
It said: "The CII will continue to work with the regulator and the government, to ensure our members are supported in meeting the needs of their customers and receive the most up to date guidance to do so."
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