Eat Out to Help Out scheme post-payment checks begin
24 November 2020
HMRC has started to write to certain Eat Out to Help Out claimants to request that they check the claims that they have submitted to ensure that they are accurate.
The scheme meant that over 84,000 food and drink establishments took part and offered a 50% discount on eligible purchases every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday during August 2020. Restaurants were paid within five working days of submitting claims, and whilst controls were built in to ensure the 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 or HMRC 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 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).
The text of the letter is as follows:
Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) Scheme - action needed
We regularly make checks on payments made under the Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) scheme. Our records show you may need to repay some or all of the payments you have received.
This is because you may have:
- Claimed for more EOTHO payments than you were entitled to – this is based on the information we hold about your business, the amounts claimed and the data we hold about the payments you have received by credit and debit card
- One or more EOTHO claims do not appear to be consistent with other EOTHO claims you have made
- Not met the conditions to claim or receive EOTHO payments
- Other compliance risks that were noted when you made a manual claim for EOTHO
What you need to do now
Please review your records and your EOTHO claim. We understand that mistakes happen, so we have made sure it is easy for you to correct your claim if you need to. If you voluntarily repay any overpaid EOTHO payments, we 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 us. This is known as ‘making a disclosure’.
To complete the online disclosure form, go to www.gov.uk and search for ‘pay back Eat Out to Help Out payments’. We will then let you know how to pay what you owe.
If you believe your EOTHO claims were correct and you met the conditions to receive them, you still need to contact us. Please phone us on 0300 322 9430 to tell us about your EOTHO claims.
If you do not make a disclosure or contact us by [SEES to enter date 60 days after date of letter], we may start a formal compliance check. This may mean you have to pay statutory interest and penalties.
We are supporting our customers while tackling serious fraud and criminal attacks. We understand mistakes happen, particularly in these challenging times. This means we will not look for innocent errors and small mistakes for compliance action.
For more information about Eat Out to Help Out, go to www.gov.uk/hmrc/paybackeatout. This will also tell you about the conditions you need to meet to make claims under this scheme. If, after reading the guidance, you are unsure if your EOTHO claims were correct, please phone us on 0300 322 9430. We can then talk to you about your claims.
If you have an authorised tax adviser, please show them this letter.
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication. For all the latest information, news and resources on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting payroll professions, visit our Coronavirus hub.