The Eat Out to Help Out scheme was launched in August to help boost the economy and support the hospitality industry. Under the rules of the scheme, businesses were permitted to discount their customers’ bills by up to 50% per diner, up to a maximum of £10 per head. Participating establishments could run the scheme Monday to Wednesday throughout August and offer discounts on food and non-alcoholic drinks. The business could then reclaim the discounted amount from the government.
Similar to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’s ‘Amnesty’ period, at the start of November, HMRC published guidance on how businesses could make corrections to their Eat Out to Help Out claims if they deemed it necessary.
Businesses can make repayments of amounts claimed where:
- They have discovered that they weren’t actually eligible, or that they have overclaimed; or
- They have decided they want to pay the money back voluntarily
It has since transpired that HMRC is writing to some businesses to prompt them to check their claims were correct, anyone in receipt of one of these letters must respond. Whilst the letter is not a formal enquiry, HMRC is entitled to open one if they don’t receive a response within 60 days.
In this instance should it transpire that you did overclaim, whether intentionally or not, you may be charged a penalty and interest.
As with any claim, it is always worth revisiting it just in case. Whilst the function to make corrections remains available it is important to make repayments as soon as possible to avoid incurring any penalties.
This must be completed by yourself; this is not something that can be done by your accountant on your behalf.
Full guidance about how to make repayments can be found on the government website. It is important to check the accuracy of claims and respond to any letters from HMRC accordingly.