In David Hamill v HMRC [2023] TC08827, the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) found that an individual who had ceased to trade in the 2018-19 tax year was not eligible for support under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). HMRC's assessments were valid.

  • In June 2020, Mr Hamill applied for a £810 grant under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), covering the period 13 May 2020 to 13 July 2020.
    • After applying online, the ‘what happens next’ screen indicated that that claim would be checked by HMRC. The grant was later paid.
  • In September 2020, Mr Hamill applied for a further SEISS grant covering the period 17 August 2020 to 19 October 2020. £709 was paid by HMRC.
  • In November 2020, Mr Hamill emailed HMRC in response to an email sent to him in October 2020 which detailed the SEISS eligibility conditions.
  • It was established that:
    • Mr Hamill had been self-employed in the tax year 2018-19 and had submitted his tax return before 23 April 2020.
    • The 2018-19 tax return disclosed that Mr Hamill had Commenced trading on 18 June 2018 and ceased trading on 31 October 2018.
    • Mr Hamill had not traded in the 2019-20 tax year because, despite having searched for work, he had been unable to secure employment and had therefore claimed Universal Credit from 1 November 2018.
    • No tax returns had been lodged for 2019-20 or 2020-21.
  • On 2 December 2021, HMRC issued an assessment to recover the SEISS grants paid based on the fact that Mr Hamill had not been trading in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 tax years; a prerequisite to qualifying for grants under the SEISS.
  • Mr Hamill Appealed to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT).

The FTT found that:

  • HMRC had no way of knowing whether Mr Hamill had traded in 2019-20 or 2020-21 at the time the SEISS grants were claimed as the due date for filing a 2019-20 tax return was 31 January 2021 (i.e. after the claims were submitted).
  • The online claim process for SEISS included screens where Mr Hamill must have confirmed that he traded in 2019-20 and intended to trade in 2020-21
  • Mr Hamill’s trade had in fact stopped in 2018-19 and he did not trade in 2019-20 or 2020-21. This meant he was not eligible for SEISS grants.
  • The FTT had no jurisdiction to consider whether or not the law is fair.

Mr Hamill’s appeal was dismissed. HMRC’s assessment was correct, competent and in time.

Useful guides on this topic

Badges of Trade: Are you trading or not?
Are you trading, running a business, or just buying and selling investments? The 'Badges of Trade' are a set of indicators, built up over time by the courts, to decide when an activity is a trading or investment activity.

How to appeal an HMRC decision
Disagree with an HMRC decision? How to appeal, what type of decision can you appeal and what are your different options when you disagree with HMRC? What are the key steps in making an appeal?

COVID-19: Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) (now ended)
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS): support for the self-employed during the Coronavirus crisis. The fifth SEISS grant covering May to September 2021 was open for claims until 30 September 2021. 

External link

David Hamill v HMRC [2023] TC08827

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