While welcoming the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), ACCA UK (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is advising that agents, the accountants who act for their self-employed clients, should be allowed to help them make the claim.
HMRC has written to all those eligible, explaining, “You’ll need to make the claim yourself, although you can seek advice from an agent, if you use one.”
For Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK, this means agents are being excluded from an important process for their clients. ‘We’ve heard from our UK members that agents want to be more involved, and clients are asking why they can’t help them. Given this grant is subject to Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance, agents who act on behalf of their clients need to know what they receive if their claim is successful.
‘This help is important, especially when claimants have been warned about HMRC being aware of an increase in phishing and scam emails, calls and texts. Like HMRC, we’re also concerned about this high risk of fraud, as many self-employed do not have direct contact with HMRC and may accept the contact as legitimate.’
ACCA UK recommends that for those who receive text messages to set up their personal government gateway IDs with HMRC, they should register through their web browser or if already registered, then only log back in through their web browser to reduce the risk of fraud.
Claire Bennison continues, ‘If someone calls claiming to be from HMRC, and you’re not sure they are, then ask them a security question, perhaps something from your last tax return. And as with any contact about your finances, never give your bank details, credit or debit card numbers if you are unsure of the source of the email, or the identity of the caller.’
HMRC is staggering the availability of the claim system, and advise they will be in contact between 13 and 18 May.