Coronavirus

SEISS provides another lifeline but agents need to be part of process too, says ACCA

While welcoming the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), ACCA UK said it 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.”

However Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK, said this means agents are being “excluded” from an important process for their clients.

She said: “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.”

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As such, ACCA UK added that it 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.

Bennison added: “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.”

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