The government's announced new initiatives to support people who are self-employed throughout the coronavirus outbreak. We've summarised and explained what's available, to help you understand the support you can get.
More time to pay your tax bill
If you're self-employed, Self-Assessment Income Tax payments that would have been due in July 2020 will be deferred to January 2021. You won't be charged penalties or interest for late payment in the deferral period.
Direct cash grants
The Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) offers direct cash grants to self-employed people who've lost income as a result of the outbreak, for at least 3 months. It's open to anyone who reports trading profits through Income Tax Self-Assessment.
You'll still be able to work if you receive the grant - whether you carry on with your normal work or take on new work (including voluntary work).
The grants will cover 80% of your average monthly trading profits, up to £2,500 per month. They'll be calculated based on profits from the last 3 tax years (where applicable).
The first payments will be made at the beginning of June 2020. It'll be a single lump sum, backdated to March to cover the 3 months until May. You won't need to repay the money, but you'll still need to pay Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance on it.
Applications for SEISS grants are now open - learn who's eligible and how to apply below.
Who's eligible for SEISS?
Self-employed individuals - including members of partnerships - who've lost trading profits as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
You'll need to:
Have trading profits of less than £50,000
Have more than half of your total income come from self-employment - based on either:
Your trading profits and total income in 2018/19
Your average trading profits and total income across the three tax years of 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19
If you started trading between the 2016-17 and 2018-19 tax years, they’ll only use the years for which you’ve filed a Self-Assessment tax return.
Have traded in 2019-20
Be trading at the time of your application (unless coronavirus is stopping you from trading), and intend to continue trading in the tax year 2020-21
Have filed a tax return for 2018-19 as self-employed or as a member of a partnership
Carry on a trade that's been negatively affected by coronavirus - including if you're unable to work, or if you've had to stop trading because you have less customer demand, your staff are unable to work or if your supply chain's been interrupted
Who's not eligible?
As well as what's listed above, if either of these two points apply to you, you won't be eligible for support under SEISS.
If you haven't filed any tax returns at all, you won't be eligible for the SEISS scheme. You'll be eligible to apply for support through Universal Credit - learn more about that here.
If you pay yourself a salary and dividends through your own company. If you operate a PAYE scheme, you'll instead be eligible to apply for support under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
How can I apply for an SEISS grant?
If you're eligible, HMRC will get in touch with you directly with more information. They'll confirm the date you’ll be able to make your claim from, and ask you for some contact details. Once you're ready to apply, you can do so on the government's website. You'll need to apply for yourself - if your accountant or an adviser applies on your behalf, it'll trigger a fraud warning and there'll likely be a delay in your grant payments.
To apply, make sure you've got your:
Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
National Insurance number
Government Gateway user ID and password (if you don't have one, you can create one when you apply)
Your UK bank details (you can use your Monzo Business account details, if you have one)
If you haven't heard from HMRC, you may not be eligible to apply for SEISS. If you've checked the eligibility criteria and think you are eligible, you can ask HMRC to review your eligibility.
Once you've applied, the grants will be paid directly into your bank account, with the first grants being paid by the beginning of June 2020. The scheme may be extended - we'll update this blogpost when we know more.
If you're not eligible, or if you need financial support before the SEISS payments are made, you may be able to apply for other government support like Universal Credit, or the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
The government's introduced a number of schemes to support small businesses throughout the coronavirus outbreak. Read our blogpost about them here.