More than 84,700 food and drink establishments participated in the Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) scheme, according to the Treasury’s latest figures.
This resulted in 130,000 claims at the end of the scheme and is estimated to have cost the Treasury around £522 million.
In establishing the claims system in a timely manner, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) did its utmost to prevent and address potential fraud.
However, HMRC has now announced that it is commencing post-payment compliance checks to recover funds paid out incorrectly to businesses.
It is understood to be writing to around 4,000 businesses who it believes may have claimed for the scheme incorrectly and asking them to check their claims. Any money they are not eligible for will need to be repaid.
Claimants will be asked to provide evidence of eligibility and historic calculations.
Those contacted have a window of 60 days to respond to the letter before HMRC begins a formal compliance check, which may involve claimants having to pay statutory interest and penalties.
Anyone who voluntarily repays any overpaid EOTHO payments will not be charged a penalty.
To report an overpayment, a claimant will need to complete an online disclosure form so that HMRC can calculate the amount that is owed.
If a business is contacted by HMRC but believes its EOTHO claims were correct, they still need to contact the tax authority within the allotted time, or a formal compliance check may still be carried out.
How can George Hay help?
If you are concerned about any funds you claimed under the EOTHO scheme, or you receive a letter from HMRC and are unsure about what you should do next, contact us.