The COVID-19 outbreak has caused huge disruption to almost all industry sectors in the UK. The speed of the outbreak and the pace of the government's lockdown measures meant that businesses had little time to adjust to the new reality.
While many large companies could furlough staff laying them off temporarily, the same was not possible for the self-employed. As many self-employed people work from job to job without the safety of an employment contract, they had understandably extreme concerns about their ability to survive.
So, what now for the self-employed? Many self-employed people such as tradespeople, either cannot work or where they can, have to work with significant limitations. This leaves them in a tough spot. Fortunately, the government has offered respite, which comes in the form of the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). In this article, we will look at the scheme, so you can assess whether it is the right move to help support you in this time of difficulty.
The Coronavirus Income Support Scheme offers a taxable grant of up to 80 percent of your average monthly trading profits (worked out using the tax returns of recent years). The grant capped at £7,500 for the entire 3-month period is paid in a single installment and is non-repayable, but you will need to pay income tax and national insurance on the income.
The scheme is intended as a short-term solution to cover a three-month period, but at this stage, it looks increasingly like the scheme will be extended. This is because of the slow the economy and will help to preserve jobs and small businesses so they can trade once some sense of normality resumes.
One of the major benefits of the scheme to those that are self-employed is the ability to continue to work. If you are fortunate enough to still trade, albeit in a diminished capacity, you are free to do so. For many businesses, this means they can continue to trade and support their long-term success.
The payment from the scheme is paid directly into your business bank account as advised by the Gov.uk process. The process is quick and simple and we've covered it in more detail in a later section.
The scheme is available to those who are self-employed or are operating as a partnership and whose business is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. As well as needing to be self-employed or part of a partnership, you also need to meet the following criteria:
You will be asked to confirm your reasons for applying for the scheme during your application. It is important that you are truthful about this, as false claims may harm you and your business.
If you wish to claim the Coronavirus Income Support Scheme grant, you will need to file a claim on the Gov.uk website. To complete the claim, you will need to have both your Unique Tax Payer Reference (UTR) which is most easily found on the top of HMRC correspondence and your National Insurance (NI) number. These are used to accurately identify you and your business, and ensure that your records are found.
If you are unsure whether you can claim the Coronavirus Income Support Scheme grant, you can also use the link on the Gov.uk website to check your eligibility. If you can claim, you may be able to lodge a claim straightaway. To do this, you will need a Government Gateway ID (you may need to create one if you do not already have one) and your bank details. Once you have completed the application, you will receive all the information that you need and will also receive a date to expect payment.
One important thing that you must keep in mind is that you need to complete your claim. While many businesses use tax accountants, these cannot be used to apply for the process. If you do use them, you will probably trigger a fraud alert. If this happens, you will need to contact HMRC, slowing down the process considerably.
If you are not eligible for the Coronavirus Income Support Scheme, you may be entitled to one of the other available forms of help. Options such as the deferral of self-assessment income tax and VAT and various other grants and loans are still available for those who are not eligible for the Coronavirus Income Support Scheme.
While conditions are tough, the government have put a lot of options in place to try and help businesses to survive. Of course, not all businesses will survive this current climate. If you need help with yours, there are a lot of options out there to help. It is worth having a close look at the Gov.uk website to find out what you may be entitled to, it may just save your business.
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