Registered users of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme (EOTHO) should check their claims to ensure money has not been paid out incorrectly, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced.
The warning comes after the regulator revealed that it would begin to write to claimants informing them of an impending formal investigation.
According to HMRC, more than 84,000 businesses took part in the food and drinks offer which took place on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during August 2020.
While the secure system to pay restaurants within five working days was operating as intended, post-compliance checks carried out by the regulator revealed that approximately 4,000 businesses have been overpaid or paid in error. This includes businesses who:
- claimed for more EOTHO payments than you were entitled to based on the information HMRC holds about your business, the amounts claimed and the data HMRC holds about the payments you have received by credit and debit card
- one or more EOTHO claims do not appear to be consistent with other EOTHO claims you have made
- not met the conditions to claim or receive EOTHO payments, and/or
- other compliance risks that were noted when you made a manual claim for EOTHO.
Commenting on the situation, an HMRC spokesperson said: “We are writing to around 4,000 businesses where our records suggest that they may have made an incorrect claim and asking them to check their claims are correct.
“Claimants have 60 days to respond to the letter or we may start a formal compliance check. This could include having to pay statutory interest and penalties.”