Deadline looms for self-employed to get government help

Time is running out to secure help from the first round of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Time is running out to secure help from the first round of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), the government’s fund for self-employed people whose businesses have been hit by the pandemic. You must make your claim by the end of 13 July.

The SEISS offers taxable grants worth 80% of your average monthly trading profits. They are paid out as a single lump sum covering three months of profits, but are capped at a maximum of £7,500. 

To work out your average monthly profit, HM Revenue & Customs will look at your average profit over the past three tax years, or the most recent years in which you traded if your business hasn’t been running for the full three years.

However, the SEISS does come with strict eligibility criteria. HMRC is supposed to have contacted those self-employed people who might be eligible for help, but if you haven’t heard from them, check for yourself. 

The most important criteria are that the scheme only covers self-employed workers making less than £50,000 of profit each year, that you must have been trading in both the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 tax years, and that you intend to continue trading in 2020-2021. 

You must be set up as a self-employed worker or partnership making an annual self-assessment tax return; you can’t claim if you trade through a limited company.

You’re also only entitled to help if you have been adversely affected by Covid-19 – you’ve been unable to work because you’ve been shielding, self-isolating or sick with the virus, for example, or you’ve earned less specifically because of the pandemic.

If you meet all these conditions, don’t lose out on SEISS by missing the 13 July deadline. You can claim via the Gov.uk website. A second phase of the scheme is due to go live in August offering similar support, though this one will limit payouts at £6,750. 

However, this will only cover losses you incur after 13 July (you won’t need to have claimed in the first phase to be eligible for the second grant).

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