HMRC has started to write to Eat Out to Help Out claimants to request that they check the claims that they have submitted to ensure they are accurate.
Whilst controls were built in to ensure that the Eat Out to Help Out scheme was only used in the correct manner, post-payment compliance checks are now underway. It is believed that approximately 4,000 businesses will be contacted, where HMRC records indicate that they may have submitted an incorrect claim or claims.
One of the controls that was built into the system meant that only food businesses registered with their relevant local authority by 7 July 2020 were eligible for the scheme.
Claimants under the scheme have a period of 60 days in which to respond to the letter from HMRC or they may begin a formal compliance check, which could result in the need for businesses to pay statutory interest and penalties.
Certain claimants may be asked to provide evidence of their eligibility for the scheme and show how they arrived at their Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) calculations. This follows a similar approach that has been taken by HMRC in relation to post-payment compliance on both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).
What you need to do now
Please review your records and your EOTHO claim. It is understood that mistakes happen, so HMRC has made sure it is easy for you to correct your claim if you need to. If you voluntarily repay any overpaid EOTHO payments, they will not charge you a penalty for the error in your claims.
If your claims were not correct and you need to repay some or all of your EOTHO payments, you need to tell HMRC. This is known as ‘making a disclosure’.
To complete the online disclosure form, please use the following link:
HMRC will then let you know how to pay what you owe.
If you do not make a disclosure or contact HMRC they may start a formal compliance check. This may mean you have to pay statutory interest and penalties.
If you have received a letter from HMRC regarding the checking of claims and you seek further advice and guidance, please call or email your usual Streets contact.