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Pre-verification checks to claim HMRC SEISS grant

We've updated this guide on 15th March 2021

For anyone self-employed who was unable to claim the HMRC SEISS grant (Self-Employed Income Support Scheme) last year, you may now be eligible to claim the 4th and 5th grants. If you filed your 2019/20 tax return by 2nd March 2021, keep reading! 

What’s happening?

What you may not know about the latest grants is that before you can claim, HMRC may contact you with pre-verification checks. They experienced high levels of claim fraud last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, so this is an effort to reduce it. 

They’ll be asking up to 100,000 of the self-employed who started their businesses in the 2019/20 tax year to confirm their identity and provide evidence of their trade ahead of being able to apply to claim the grants.

Is it a nuisance? Yes. Can anything be done to avoid the checks? Sadly no. 

How will I know if I need to verify my identity?

Those who will be going through the checks will get a letter from HMRC between 8th March 2021 and mid-April 2021. In the letter, HMRC will let you know that they’ll be phoning you within 10 working days. 

Click here to see what the letter will look like.

Make sure to look out for the call. They will try three times. If you’re not sure that they have the correct personal details to reach you, just get in touch with them on 0800-024-1222.

Be aware though that this line is only for changing your phone number. If you’re contacting HMRC for anything else, this is not the line to use!

What happens on the call?

Scams have been especially prevalent since the outbreak of the pandemic. It’s therefore really important to be aware of what you’ll be asked when they ring. 

  • You confirm your email address
  • They will ask if they can send you a link to a secure Dropbox
  • You’ll be given two days to upload:
    • 1x form of identity (e.g. passport)
    • 3x months of bank statements to demonstrate your business activity
  • After two days, the link will expire

What happens if I miss the call?

If you miss the call, HMRC will write another letter to you.

Be aware that without going through these pre-verification checks, HMRC won’t let you claim the 4th and 5th grants. If you’re worried about whether or not to trust that the call is HMRC, check out their list of genuine contacts here.

Wait, what is the HMRC SEISS grant?

The SEISS is a grant that the UK government is offering to the self-employed who suffered a loss in business during the pandemic. The grants supplement up to 80% of your income over 3 month segments. You don’t need to pay them back, but you’ll have to pay tax on them though as you would any other income.

There have been three grants so far covering March 2020 to February 2021. The fourth grant can be claimed from April.

Read in more detail about SEISS in our TaxScouts guides.

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