HMRC is writing to 4,000 Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) claimants to ask them to check their claims.
The EOTHO scheme saw more than 84,000 food and drink establishments take part and offer a 50% discount on eligible purchases on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during August 2020.
HMRC worked quickly to set up a system to pay restaurants within five working days. Controls were built into the system to protect public money, which included limiting eligibility to food businesses registered with the relevant local authority by 7th July 2020.
HMRC is now starting post-payment compliance checks to recover money paid out incorrectly. This includes writing to around 4,000 businesses where its records suggest an incorrect claim has been made and asking them to check their claims are correct.
Claimants have 60 days to respond to the letter or HMRC may start a formal compliance check. This could include having to pay statutory interest and penalties.
Some claimants may be asked to provide evidence of eligibility and their EOTHO calculations. This follows the similar approach HMRC has taken to post-payment compliance for the Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
Businesses that voluntarily repay any overpaid EOTHO payments will not be charged a penalty for the error in their claims.
Find out how to pay back all or some of the payments your business claimed when taking part in the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme by clicking here.