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Covid 19 help for the Self Employed

Details of the help announced for the Self Employed by the Chancellor on the 26th March 2020.

Main points of interest from the Self Employed Income Support Scheme:

  • The government will pay self-employed people who have been adversely affected by the Covid 19, a taxable grant worth 80% of their mean average monthly profits over the last 3 years, up to £2,500 per month. That is; tax years 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19. It will be open for at least 3 months, possibly more.
  • These grants for Self Employed will most likely not be available until June, backdated until March. If it's paid in June, it will be a lump sum for 3 months, based on the average of your profits. e.g. If your average yearly profit is deemed to be £40,000, you will get ¼ of that in a lump sum - £10,000, in June.
  • Those Self-Employed who have not yet filed their 2018/19 tax return in January have been given 4 weeks to get it completed, in order to avail of help from the new Self Employment Income Support Scheme
  • You need to be Self Employed for at least the last year, and have completed your 2018/19 Self Assessment tax return to avail of the new scheme. If you set up in the last year, since April 2019, you are not eligible.
  • This scheme is only available to you if 50% or more of your income is from self-employment.
  • You do not need to contact HMRC to access the scheme. They will use existing tax information to contact those who are eligible over next few weeks.
  • This is a grant. You do not have to pay it back. However, it is taxable, and if the payment of it pushes you into a higher tax bracket, you will be paying higher rate taxes and NIC's on this.
  • If you cannot manage to stay afloat until June, you can still apply for help using some of the measures listed at the bottom of this article - Universal Credit etc.

Freelancers / Contractors / Owner-Directors

  • Freelancers, paid under PAYE scheme, contact the employer/ employers you worked for in February 2020. It may be possible for them to furlough you so you can avail of the Corona Virus Job Retention Scheme.
  • If you are a contractor paid through an Umbrella Company operating a PAYE scheme, the umbrella company may furlough you so you can avail of the Corona Virus Job Retention Scheme.
  • Contractor's or Owner- Director's who pay themselves a basic salary + dividends are not covered by the Self Employment Income Support Scheme announced today. They may be able to access the Corona Virus Job Retention Scheme if they are operating PAYE schemes. Note that they will only be eligible to use the amount declared for PAYE, and not the amount claimed in dividends.

If you are not covered by either the Corona Virus Job Retention Scheme or the Self Employed Income Support Scheme

  • Check out the various options offered by banks through the Business Interruption Loan Schemes.
  • Deferral of the next VAT payment - you must cancel your direct debit to HMRC.
  • Defer your July Tax payment until January 2021.
  • Apply for Universal Credit. Changes in Universal Credit mean it is now available to all self employed. It has also been increased in the new measures announced in the last week and is tax free. If you have less than £16,000 in savings, you will be eligible.
  • Various changes in Housing Benefit have been brought in for those who are renting, - greater amounts available in payments, depending on where you live.
  • Contact your bank about mortgage relief.

New HMRC helpline number for self employed/SME's 0800 024 122

Please note that this advise is what is recommended at this point (26/3/2020). As advice keeps changing and updating, so may the recommendations suggested here.

Full published details of the Self Employed Income Support Scheme here.  https://bit.ly/3ahlVf3

This article was published in our News section on 27/03/2020.

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