Martin Lewis provides insight into ‘bizarre’ self-employment grant rule

Martin Lewis provides help to people who need extra assistance with understanding different initiatives and circumstances which may apply to them. He has been particularly helpful during the coronavirus crisis, as the Treasury has released a number of supportive schemes which must be understood. His recent advice concerns the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) first offered to eligible Britons back in March as part of a new raft of measures introduced by the government.

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Currently, the scheme allows self-employed individuals to claim a taxable grant worth 80 percent of their average monthly trading profits to provide financial assistance.

The grant is paid out in a single instalment which covers three months of trading profits, and is capped at £7,500 in total.

Millions flocked to the scheme upon its opening, with the grant providing help to those who need it most.

However, the government is changing the rules concerning the SEISS scheme, and Martin has urged vigilance.

Applications for the second grant are set to open in August, but Britons do not have to have claimed the first grant to receive the second instalment.

It will be worth 70 percent of average monthly trading profits, and paid out in a single instalment of £6,570 in total.

What is worth noting however, is the fact the self-employed must confirm their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus on or after July 14 to claim the second grant.

Martin has described this as a “bizarre” rule, due to the fact the original government scheme covers March, April and May, and he would hope the second grant covers June, July and August.

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He described it as “strange” that the new rule dictates self-employed people must prove their business was impacted after mid-July.

Martin also said it was unfair for businesses which were heavily impacted in June, but have recovered by them.

However, he spoke to HMRC who stated the grants do not relate to a specific three-month time period anymore, although they are based on three months of trading profits.

If businesses have been impacted both before July 13, and on or after July 14, then they will be entitled to both grants.

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This is because the first grant was for those impacted before July 13, and the second for those impacted on or after July 14.

The system for applying for the grant is quick and easy, and the government has provided additional help and support.

To check if one is eligible to claim, a person will need their Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number, alongside a National Insurance number.

Eligibility checks can take place through the government’s online portal which asks for these details to confirm if someone is entitled.

To work out eligibility, the government looks at 2018 to 2019 Self Assessment tax returns.

Trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to non-trading income.

If a person is not eligible based on the 2018 to 2019 Self Assessment tax return, the government will then look at previous tax years.

However, Britons are urged to remember that they must make the claim themselves.

A tax agent or adviser must not claim on a person’s behalf, as this triggers a fraud alert which could significantly delay an individual’s payment. 

Speaking of the schemes designed to help Britons get back on their feet, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “I understand some people have felt frustrated. But you were not and have not been forgotten.

“Not everything will look the same as before. It won’t be the case that we can simply put the key in the lock, open the door and step into the world as it was in January.

“We will develop new measures to grow the economy, to back business, to boost skills and to help people thrive in the new post-COVID world.”

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