Empowering the Freelance Economy

Fourth SEISS to affect future claims of existing claimants

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Now that the fourth Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will finally provide grant support to the self-employed and partnerships who began trading during the 2019/20 tax year, it could mean existing claimants might get a higher or lower amount than they previously received and some may even be excluded, according to The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG).

  • The eligibility conditions for the fourth grant will be similar to those for the previous SEISS grants.
  • You must have submitted your 2019/20 Self Assessment tax return before 23.59 on 2 March 2021.
  • The eligibility conditions are on GOV.UK

Why will future claims not be the same?

The fourth SEISS grant will cover the three months from February to April 2021. The inclusion of 2019/20 profits are now to be included in the calculation for all future claims, therefore the calculation of the grants for those who have previously claimed will change and be averaged over a longer period.

This may benefit some claimants because they may now be entitled to a grant based on a higher amount of profit. However, in other cases, it may mean they receive less than in their earlier grants. Some may no longer qualify for SEISS at all as a result.

For example, if you started self-employment in January 2019 and earn profits of £1,000 per month then for the third SEISS grant you would have received £600 (£1000 x 3 months profits for January 2019 to March 2019; £3,000 divided by 12 x 3 x 80%= £600).

However, if you earn £12,000 profit in 2019/20 then we understand your claim for the fourth grant should now be: £1,500 (average profits for the two tax years is (£3,000 + £12,000)/2 = £7,500; the fourth grant would be calculated as £7,500/12 x 3 x 80% = £1,500). This represents an increase of £900.

If instead, your profit for 2019/20 was £2,000 (because you bought additional equipment and coronavirus pandemic affected your profits in Feb and March 2020) then the fourth grant would be calculated as £3,000+£2,000/2= £2,500/12 x 3 x 80% = £500.

“The Government’s announcement will be a help to many people who first started trading in 2019/20,” said Victoria Todd, Head of LITRG.

“However, with trading profits for 2019/20 being included in the grant calculation, it could mean that the fourth grant for existing claimants is different from what they might have been expecting. As they are not newly self-employed, they may think the announcement does not affect them; they would be wrong,” said Todd.

Todd provides an example. Those who began trading in 2018/19 had the first three SEISS grants calculated on the assumption that their 2018/19 profits were for a full year, which distorted the calculation of average monthly profits. As the fourth grant will bring 2019/20 trading profits into the calculation, the effect of that distortion will be reduced and in some cases these individuals should be eligible for a higher grant.

On the other hand, she said, if an existing claimant had lower profits in 2019/20 than in previous years, then the inclusion of that year will reduce the average monthly profits used in calculating the grant amount.

Not everyone who started their business in the 2019/20 tax year will benefit from this change

  • If your trading profits are below 50% of your total taxable income for 2019/20 then you will not usually be able to claim the grant.
  • For example, if you left employment part way through 2019/20 to start your own business, then your employment income could exceed your trading profits for that year and the 50% test would not be met.
  • LITRG is also concerned that newly self-employed may be expecting a grant based on 80% of their average monthly profits for the months they traded in 2019/20. The grant will likely be calculated by treating actual profits as being for a full year, and therefore averaged over 12 months, as it was for the first three SEISS grants.
  • If someone started their self-employment in January 2020 and made profits of £6,000 then for the purposes of the grant the average of three months would be £1,200 (£6,000/12 x 3 months x 80%) and not £4,800 (3 months of trading at 80%).

“As always, the devil is in the detail,” said Todd. “Depending on their circumstances, those who started trading in 2019/20 may not be eligible for the grant – or otherwise might not get as much as they were expecting. We also encourage existing claimants to check how the changes affect them to avoid any surprises when they claim the fourth grant.”

1 Comment
  1. P.Fisher says

    Good article but as someone who is only just eligible for the fourth grant, I was sent a letter from HMRC saying they would call me between 10 March and 20 March from an unknown number and would try 3 times to confirm my eligibility. If they could not get a reply I would not be able to apply for the grant.
    This information was sent out by HMRC at 17:00 on Friday 12 march and so not seen until 15th March – this morning.
    The letter states that this letter would be likely copied by scammers – so be careful of scams!

    It seems to me HMRC are trying to stop genuine claimants by imposing artificial timescales so that genuine applicants fail to meet HMRC imposed deadlines. May be worth a note in future articles.

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