CJRS compliance letters are issued

The first batch of compliance letters relating to the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) have been sent out by HMRC.

The CJRS has operated on the basis of “pay now, check later”. HMRC has moved into the post-transaction review phase of the scheme and has begun to ask questions where it has concerns over the validity of claims.

That may be because claims were miscalculated or were made for ineligible employees.

HMRC has stressed that it is focusing on fraudulent claims and not on cases where an employer has made an “innocent error”.

According to reports it will be sharing more details of its compliance approach in the coming weeks.

The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) says that authorised agents of employers who receive one of the letters 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, HMRC has set out guidance for employers who become aware of an error in their claim.

It says: “We understand that mistakes can happen, particularly in the present circumstances.

“We’ve made it as easy as possible to pay back any amounts of CJRS grants you’ve claimed that you were not entitled to. If you received too much because you made an error in a claim, you must pay this back to us. It’s easy to put right.”

To avoid penalties, they need to 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 that 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

Its guidance adds: “If you do not do this, you may have to pay a penalty. If you do repay any overclaimed grant, this will prevent any potential tax liability in respect of the overpayment of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

“We will not be actively looking for innocent errors in our compliance approach.”