CJRS (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) and SEISS (Self-Employment Income Support Scheme) grants knowingly misused can be a charged as a criminal offence. If HMRC open an enquiry and do not prosecute, the Officers can pursue penalties up to 100% of the tax due. The tax due = 100% of the incorrect grant payments made. HMRC should be more lenient if there is a genuine mistake it is therefore important to obtain professional advice if there is an investigation or to make a voluntary disclosure of any errors before HMRC open an enquiry. HMRC made the first criminal CJRS fraud arrest in July and with over 4,000 reports from employees many employers could be caught up in an investigation.
Following Royal Assent on 22 July, businesses have 90 days to come forward to make a voluntary disclosure to HMRC of any errors. The deadline for payments already received will expire on 20 October.