COVID-19: Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The HMRC’s claims portal for the second grant opens in August 2020. 

At a glance

Support for the self-employed during the coronavirus crisis:

  • Two separate taxable grants are claimable:
    • First grant for the period ending 13 July 2020.
    • Second grant for the period from 14 July 2020.
  • The grant payable is the lower of:
    • £7,500 (if claiming for the first grant), or £6,570 (if claiming for the second grant) and
    • 80% of your average monthly profits over the three years 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19* for the first three months, reducing to 70% of the same average profits for the second three months.
  • The grant was initially capped for three months and has subsequently been extended.
  • A variation of the second grant was announced on 23 June and applies to new parents.
  • The grant is available to self-employed individuals:
    • With trading profits up to £50,000 per year whose majority of income comes from being self-employed.
    • Who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus crisis.
  • If you receive the grant you can continue to work or take on other employment including voluntary work. 
  • You do not have to have claimed the first grant to be able to claim the second.

Claims for the first three months commenced on 13 May 2020, with the first payments arriving from 25 May 2020 and within 6 working days of claims being made.

The deadline for claiming under the first round is 13 July 2020. Claims for the second round of grants at the lower rate may be made in August.  See How to claim under the SEISS. 

Note that: Company directors are employees for PAYE purposes and not self-employed, see COVID-19: Company directors

Overview

Eligibility

You can claim one or both of the grants, only if your business is ‘adversely’ affected by the coronavirus.’ To claim the second grant your business must have been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020.

Your business may be adversely affected if any of the following apply:

Restrictions on trading:

  • Government orders have meant that your trade or industry had to close or to be restricted in such a way that your trade closed or is otherwise adversely affected.
  • You cannot organise your work or workplace to allow your staff to work safely.
  • You cannot serve customers due to social distancing.
  • Restrictions have affected your customers or staff.
  • Your supply chain is interrupted due to shortages of product, PPE etc.

Restrictions on you personally:

  • You have been ill or self- isolating or shielding.
  • You have had to care for others and this disrupted your work.

Qualifying conditions

The same conditions apply to both rounds of grant funding. These conditions relate to eligibility for the grants and not to the amounts you will receive if you do qualify, details of which are set out at How will the grant be calculated? below. 

You are self-employed and you:

  • Have submitted your Income Tax Self-Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19 on or by 23 April 2020.
  • Have traded in the tax year 2019-20.
  • Are trading when you apply or would be except for COVID-19.
  • Intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020-21.
  • Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19. You should keep records to support this.
  • Average self-employed trading profits between £0- £50,000.

Additionally, more than half of your total income comes from self-employment.

One of the following conditions A to C must be met to be eligible for the scheme.

  1. Your trading profits/partnership trading profits are between £0 – £50,000 for 2018-19 and those trading profits are more than half of your total taxable income for that year, or
    1. Your average trading profits/partnership trading profits for the three years 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 are between £0- £50,000 and your average trading profits for those years are more than half of your total taxable average income for those same years, or
    1. If you did not trade in 2016-17, your average trading profits/partnership trading profits for the two years 2017-18, and 2018-19 are between £0- £50,000 and your average trading profits for those years are more than half of your total taxable average income for those same years.

From July 2020: proposed modified extra condition for parents, including adoptive ones, who took time out of trading to care for their children within the first 12 months of birth of the child or within 12 months of an adoption placement:

  • If your trading profits dipped in 2018-19 due to parenting, you will now be able to use either their 2017-18 or both their 2016-17 and 2017-18 self-assessment returns as the basis for their eligibility for the SEISS.

D. If you were not trading in 2016-17, your trading profits/partnership trading profits are between £0 – £50,000 for 2017-  18 and those trading profits are more than half of your total taxable income for that year, or

E. Your average trading profits/partnership trading profits for the two years 2017-18, and 2016-17 are between £0- £50,000 and your average trading profits for those years are more than half of your total taxable average income for those same years.

New parents – added 26/6

  • Self-employed parents whose trading profits dipped in 2018/19 because they took time out to have children will be able to claim the SEISS. 
  • Parents, including adoptive ones, who took time out of trading to care for their children within the first 12 months of birth of the child or within 12 months of an adoption placement, will now be able to use either their 2017-18 or both their 2016-17 and 2017-18 self-assessment returns as the basis for their eligibility for the SEISS.
  • They will also need to meet the other standard eligibility criteria for support under the SEISS.
  • Further details of the change for self-employed parents will be set out by the start of July in published guidance. This measure was announced on 17 June according to the treasury website.

Profit tests

HMRC give the following example (14 April 2020):

 2016 to 20172017 to 20182018 to 2019Total for the 3 tax years
Trading profit£50,000£50,000£(10,000)£90,000
Pension income£15,000£15,000£15,000£45,000
Total income£65,000£65,000£5,000£135,000
Trading profit is half or more of your total incomeYesYesNoYes

So even if you made a loss in the tax year 2018 to 2019, you would still be eligible for the grant because your average trading profit for the three tax years:

  • Is £30,000 – which is less than £50,000.
  • Is more than half of your total income of £45,000.

CLAIMS

  • Claims cannot be made by taxpayers’ agents and must be made by the individual businesses themselves. If the taxpayer’s agent attempts to make a claim on their behalf this will delay the claim as it will trigger a fraud alert.
  • There is currently no fixed deadline for making a claim.

4. Claims for the first three months of the grant must be made by 13 July 2020.

5. Claims for the second and final three months commence in August 2020.

How is the grant be calculated?

The amount of the SEISS payment for the first three month period is the lower of:

a) £7,500 (1st grant) and

b) (Average* trading profit/12) x 80% x 3

This means that you need to have made a past average profit of £37,500 in order to expect to receive the full £7,500.

The amount of the SEISS payment for the second and final three month period is the lower of:

a) £6,570 (2nd grant) and

b) (Average* trading profit/12) x 70% x 3

This means that you need to have made a slightly higher past average profit, of £37,543, in order to expect to receive the full £6,570.

*To work out the average HMRC will add together the total trading profit for the three tax years, or less, if you have been trading a shorter time and then divide by three or the number of months and use this to calculate a monthly amount.

On 14 April 2020 HMRC provided additional guidance and examples as to how they will work out trading income for the purposes of the scheme.

  • They will take taxable trading profits after:
  • Allowable expenses including flat rate deductions.
  • Capital allowances.
  • Business expenses deducted through the trading allowance.
  • Qualifying care relief.
  • Current year losses
  • No losses brought forward or personal allowances will be deducted.

HMRC examples:

Example 1

If your total trading income (turnover) in each of the tax years 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018 and 2018 to 2019 was £20,000 and you claimed the £1,000 trading allowance each year:

This is worked out as:

  1. £20,000 deduct the trading allowance of £1,000 = £19,000.
  2. Multiply £19,000 by 3 = £57,000.
  3. Divide £57,000 by 3 = £19,000.

Your average trading profit would be £19,000.

Example 2: You have more than one trade in the same tax year

We will add together all profits and losses for all these trades to work out your trading profit.

If you only traded in the tax year 2018 to 2019 and made a £60,000 profit for your first trade, and then a £20,000 loss for your second trade, your trading profit for that year would be:

Trade 1 £60,000 profit deduct trade 2 £20,000 loss = £40,000

Example 3: You have traded for more than one year

To work out your average trading profit we will add together all profits and losses for all tax years you’ve had continuous trade.

If you made:

  • £60,000 profit in the tax year 2016 to 2017.
  • £60,000 profit in the tax year 2017 to 2018.
  • £30,000 loss in the tax year 2018 to 2019.

Add £60,000 and £60,000 then deduct £30,000 loss = £90,000

Then divide £90,000 by three.

Your average trading profit for the three tax years would be £30,000.

Example 4

If you did not trade in tax year 2016 to 2017 but made:

  • £25,000 of profit in the tax year 2017 to 2018.
  • £45,000 of profit in the tax year 2018 to 2019.

Add £25,000 and £45,000 = £70,000.

Then divide £70,000 by two.

Your average trading profit for the two tax years would be £35,000.

Members of partnerships

  • Each partner in a partnership must make a claim based on their own circumstances.
  • HMRC will work out eligibility based on your share of the partnership’s trading profits.
  • If the partnership agreement requires the grant to be paid into the partnership pot, the partnership should give it back to you.

Tax and benefit implications

The grants are subject to tax and NIC as self- employed income. HMRC do not expect any of the grant to be declared for 2019/20 despite part of the first round being nominally related to that tax year.

The grant is classed as self-employed income for the purposes of universal credit claims.

VAT implications

HMRC have not provided any guidance as to whether the grants will be subject to VAT or count towards turnover for VAT registration limits. Normal principles are expected to apply meaning:

  • The grants would be outside the scope of VAT and no output VAT should have to be accounted for.
  • The grant income should be disregarded for VAT registration and deregistration limits.

If you did not submit your Income Tax Self- Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018-19 by 31 January 2020, you must have done so by 23 April 2020.

HMRC are using data on 2018/19 returns already submitted to identify those eligible and will risk-assess any late returns filed before the 23 April 2020 deadline in the usual way.

  • You must be registered as self-employed and have filed a 2019 tax return.
  • For those who missed the 31 January 2020 return deadline, there was an extension to 23 April 2020 in which to file one.
  • Any amendments made to 2019 tax returns after 6pm on 26 March 2020 will not be taken into account.
  • The scheme commenced paying out for the first three months from 26 May 2020. For the second period claims and payments will be made in August. The grant will be paid directly into your bank account, in one instalment.