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HMRC to review job retention scheme claims

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Giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on Monday 7 September, Jim Harra confirmed that HMRC has so far received about 8,000 calls to its job retention scheme ‘report a fraud’ phone line, and separately is currently looking into 27,000 ‘high-risk claims’. For future planning purposes, HMRC assumes a 5%–10% error and fraud rate for claims under the scheme, representing up to a potential £3.5bn.

The ‘missing’ £3.5bn that may have been claimed fraudulently or paid in error is as yet an early estimate and with many businesses already under review the problem could well be greater than currently anticipated.

Fiona Fernie, a disputes resolution partner at Blick Rothenberg, notes: ‘Now is the time for companies who have over claimed to come clean even if it was in error and get their house in order before that letter drops onto the mat or they get an enquiry email - because at that point they will be “under investigation”.

‘HMRC are primarily intent on tackling those that have used the system fraudulently from the outset, but Jim Harra has made it clear that although they won’t be pursuing erroneous claims at present due to the circumstances, HMRC expects employers to check their own claims and repay any excess amount.

‘This begs the question whether those that don’t bother to make the checks or those that do make them but “forget” to make the appropriate repayment of the excess, effectively become fraudulent users of the scheme rather than just claimants who have made a mistake, which would then place them squarely in the firing line for an HMRC investigation.’

Issue: 1500
Categories: News