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Important information for newly self employed intending to apply for the fourth SEISS grant

Newly self employed, i.e. those who started their business in 2019/20 who had previously been ineligible for financial support under the Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) may now become eligible for support under the fourth grant, (subject to having submitted a tax return for 2019/20 by midnight on 2 March 2021).  Applications for the fourth grant are expected to open in late April 2021.

In a departure from the previous SEISS application process, HMRC are introducing additional identification checks that those who intend to make applications for the fourth should be aware of and ready to act upon as soon as possible, given the very short timescales involved.

The 7 Step Process:

1. HMRC will send a letter

HMRC will issue a ‘SEISS Verification Letter’ to some, but not all, new tax payers between 10 March and mid-April.  HMRC have updated their genuine HMRC contact guidance to include this letter.  The letter will tell the recipient to either anticipate a call directly from HMRC, or that they will contact their agent, depending upon which telephone number was provided on the tax return.

2. HMRC will then telephone new tax payers

Up to two weeks after the letter has been sent, HMRC will contact either the taxpayer or their agent.  If the latter, HMRC will ask the agent for their client’s telephone number.  HMRC will  attempt to call the tax payer between 8am and 5.30pm – the call will show on mobile telephone screens as an ‘Unknown Number’ however this call should not be ignored.

HMRC will only try to contact the taxpayer three times, and if unsuccessful in reaching them, the taxpayer will be deemed to have failed the ‘pre-verification check’.  It is important therefore that taxpayers provided an accurate telephone number on their tax return, or their agent holds their client’s correct telephone number to pass on to HMRC.  Tax payers can update their telephone numbers by calling HMRC on 0800 024 1222.

If you have concerns that the call from HMRC is genuine, you are urged to ask the HMRC caller to confirm other information that they will hold about you on their system.

3. Provide HMRC with your email address

Applicants should confirm or provide their email address on the call, and agree to receive a link to a ‘Dropbox’ account to that said email address.  Dropbox is a cloud based online platform where electronic documents can be deposited and accessed securely online.

4. Applicants retrieve and action HMRC’s email within 48 hours of it being sent

It is important that applicants act on this email as soon as possible.  Applicants should take care to ensure HMRC’s email is not diverted to a ‘Junk’ or ‘Spam’ folder.  The Dropbox link should be accessed and actioned within 48 hours of issue (see point 6 below).

5. Provide digital copies of identification documents

At this point applicants should obtain digital copies of a form of personal identification (i.e. a photocard driving licence or passport) plus three months of their UK business bank statements from 2019/20 that demonstrates business activity in 2019/20.  These can either be scanned copies or photographs of documents.

6. Upload personal ID and bank statements to Dropbox

The digital personal identification and bank statements must be uploaded to the Dropbox link contained in the email within two days of receipt or the Dropbox link will expire, and the taxpayer will be deemed to have failed the pre-verification process.

7. Apply for the grant

Once the above steps have been successfully undertaken, the taxpayer can then apply for the grant via the online portal when it opens.  Only taxpayers can apply for the grant, tax agents cannot apply on their client’s behalf.

If the taxpayer has no intention of making an application for financial support under the fourth grant then  the letter can be disregarded.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns then you should not hesitate to get in touch with your usual Mitchell Charlesworth adviser.