Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Compliance Letters

24 August, 2020

The first wave of compliance letters regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) were issued last week as HMRC moves into the post transaction review phase of the scheme. The first batch of letters started to land on doormats from Wednesday 18 August.

HMRC will be asking questions where they have concerns over the validity of claims. This could be because claims have been miscalculated, or claims were made for ineligible employees.

HMRC have said that they will be concentrating their compliance activity on those who have been abusing the system. They will be focusing on fraudulent claims and not cases where the employer has made an innocent error. We understand that HMRC will be sharing more details of its compliance approach in the coming weeks.

Authorised agents of employers who receive a letter should also receive a copy. Where the employer does not have an authorised agent, the letter will suggest that they show it to their agent if they have one.

In the meantime, where an employer becomes aware of an error in their claim, to avoid penalties they should contact HMRC to correct the position. The deadline for correcting an over-claim is the later of:

  • 90 days after the date the employer received the grant they were not entitled to
  • 90 days after the date the employer received the grant that they are no longer entitled to keep because their circumstances have changed
  • 20 October 2020.

Provided corrections are made in time, penalties can be avoided. HMRC have also produced a factsheet setting out the penalties for over-claiming under the scheme.

As we reported last week, following the removal of a lot of detail relating to the first version of the scheme which ran from March to June 2020 from GOV.UK, HMRC has recently helped by explaining how earlier versions of the guidance can be found on the GOV.UK archives and added some helpful links to the main scheme guidance pages. This older guidance may be helpful for those looking to check their claims for this period.