01308 488066
taxvol@taxvol.org.uk

newsfeed

Pension reforms start in April

Caxton House SignAn increase in the state pension rate is among a number of welfare reforms to come into effect throughout April 2018.

2 April

Funeral expenses payment

For people on qualifying benefits, Funeral Expenses Payments contribute towards the cost of arranging a funeral. From 2 April, it has been made simpler for people to claim a Funeral Expenses Payment. Changes include extending the period in which a claim can be made and allowing recipients to receive contributions from friends and family without them being deducted from the payment.

6 April

Automatic enrolment into a workplace pension

To help workers to save for their future, the automatic enrolment pension contribution rates also increased from 2% to 5% on 6 April 2018.

Automatic enrolment was created to help people with their long-term pension savings and works by requiring employers to enrol all eligible staff into a workplace pension. An estimated 10 million people will be newly saving or saving more later this year and the increase in minimum contribution rates will build on this success.

9 April

State pension

The State Pension has also increased from 9 April, in line with the ‘triple lock'. The full basic State Pension was put up by 3% to £125.95 a week. This means that the government will have raised the full basic State Pension by £1,450 a year since 2010. The full rate of the new State Pension also increased by 3%, to £164.35 a week.

FREE support to help you access your tax information

  • Are you over 60?
  • Are you on low income?
  • Do you have a computer, but lack the confidence or skills to use online financial tools and services?
  • Do you want to access your Personal Tax Account, but could do with a bit of help?

View and manage your tax information online

Tax Help for Older People is offering FREE support during 2018 to help people set up and view their Personal Tax Account on the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) website.

By 2020, HMRC is aiming to have moved to a fully online system where:

  • Form filling is reduced as you will no longer have to tell HMRC information it already knows;
  • Your tax information is up to date at all times, removing the risk of missed deadlines, unnecessary penalties, debts arising and errors in the system being carried forward; and
  • The information HMRC needs is automatically uploaded, bringing an end to the tax return.

Your Personal Tax Account is already available and brings all of your tax details together in one place, where you can view, file, pay and update your tax information online, at any time.

If you are interested in accessing your Personal Tax Account and you have answered ‘yes’ to the questions above, call us on 01308 488066 and we will arrange help for you either through a home visit or phone appointment with one of our advisers. We will ask a few simple questions before and after you have accessed your Personal Tax Account to see if our support has helped you.

HMRC and RAD promise to improve access for deaf people

RAD LogoFollowing a successful pilot, HMRC and Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD) have signed an agreement to continue working together for the next three years, in an initiative aimed at making HMRC’s services more accessible to deaf people.

Current services will continue, including the website www.royaldeaftax.org.uk where deaf people can find information on tax and tax credits in British Sign Language (BSL).

RAD will continue to provide advice in BSL via webcam to clients throughout England and Wales. The project also includes a video interpreting service, enabling deaf customers to contact HMRC using a BSL interpreter, again via webcam.

Topics include:

  • Working tax credits
  • Child tax credits
  • PAYE
  • Self-Assessment

RAD will also work with HMRC to promote important tax information to the deaf community, such as Marriage Allowance.

Plans are under way to develop the service to give deaf customers even more control. A new website and a user-friendly “choose and book” app for advice and interpreting appointments, is scheduled to be ready in the new year.

Jan Sheldon, RAD’s Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted that HMRC will continue to work with us to make their service accessible to deaf customers. The pilot project won accolades and we see this as an example of how government departments can be proactive in providing equality of access to deaf people.”

Scam warning – Have you had a mail from HMRC?

We've recently been made aware of someone receiving an email that looks like it has come from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). They appear to be sent from incometax@taxvol.org.uk.

Tax Help for Older People/Tax Volunteers never send unsolicited emails.

If you receive any unexpected emails that look like they've come from us, please get in touch. Either give us a call on one of the numbers shown at the top of every page of this website, or use the contact form. As soon as you have done this, delete the email. Do not reply to it and don't click any links in the email.

General advice about suspicious emails

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will never use emails to:

  • tell you about a tax rebate or penalty
  • ask for personal or payment information

Check HMRC’s guidance on recognising scams if you’re not sure.

Forward suspicious emails to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

 

Important news about your Personal Tax Account

HMRC offers many ways of dealing with tax through its website. The most important of which is the 'Personal Tax Account. It's a convenient way to manage tax credits and benefits and confirm details of your National Insurance number.

Personal Tax AccountNew services are being added all the time. From today (Monday, 1 August 2016) you can use your Personal Tax Account to check your end of year PAYE tax position and see if you’ve paid too much or too little tax.

PAYE tax is based on the information that HMRC hold. If that information is out of date or incomplete, tax collected over the year may be wrong. Each year the tax man carries out an end of year reconciliation for everyone and then writes to anyone who has paid too much or too little tax.

For the first time, if you've paid too much tax, you will be invited to fill out your bank details so that HMRC can pay back what they owe straight into your account.

Of course,  a Personal Tax Account won’t work for everyone. For those with slightly more complex situations, such as where you have nominated someone else to receive any repayment, or if you can’t get online, HMRC continue to offer their existing services.

Change in End of Year reconciliation letter

From Monday 1 August some of us may see a slight change to the end of year reconciliation letter (P800). If you'd like to see what it might look like, click here.

As you can see it encourages us to use our Personal Tax Accounts.

In the first two weeks of August, HMRC will test how this works with some of us who are due a tax rebate. Then, providing everything is working as it should, from 22 August, everyone who has paid too much tax will receive a letter inviting them to use their Personal Tax Account to get a rebate quicker.

Later this the year HMRC will introduce an online payment service for people who haven’t paid enough tax through PAYE.

If you would like help to get into your Personal Tax Account, click here

Scam Warning: Phone message threatens HMRC lawsuit

HMRC has asked us to alert our users to a scam which targets taxpayers and seems to be aimed at the elderly in particular. We have been asked to share the following information:

There is currently a telephone scam where a recorded message is left, allegedly from HMRC, stating that HMRC are bringing a lawsuit against the individual and is going to sue them. The recipient is asked to phone 0161 8508494 and press “1” to speak to the officer dealing with the case. This scam is becoming widely reported and seems to be targeting older people. Please do not reply to the message.

HMRC takes security very seriously but you need to be alert. If you cannot verify the identity of the person making the call you should not disclose your personal details. You should report these incidents on the Action Fraud website, or you can call them on 0300 123 2040 (Please note this number will be charged at your normal network rate). They are open Monday to Friday 09:00 - 18:00.

To learn more about dealing with phishing and scams we have HMRC advice available here.

More useful information

Be on your guard against online fraud

I have been sent an email from HMRC saying I am due a refund. Is this something that they do?

 

Help for deaf people in BSL with completing tax returns

RAD LogoAre you deaf and looking for information or help about Tax or Tax Credits?

Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD) and HMRC are working together to make information and advice more accessible for Deaf people in the UK.

A new website lets users:

  • Find information in BSL about popular subjects, and answers to Frequently Asked Questions
  • See links to HMRC information – for example, “What do tax codes mean?”
  • Book a webcam appointment with RAD’s Tax Advisor, who will chat in BSL, and help solve problems with Tax or Tax Credits
  • Contact HMRC directly via a NRCPD British Sign Language/ English interpreter using RAD’s Video Interpreting Service

Download the Press Release about this new service

New Tax Guidance on Pensions

Changes introduced from 6 April 2015 allow people to access their pension savings more freely and easily than before.

Please view our video which focuses on some of the more important points.

We have also produced a booklet which helps explain matters in more detail.

Our guide:

  • aims to help you understand the tax treatment of the options available within the new, more flexible, regime.
  • is based on our current understanding of the Taxation of Pensions Act 2014, and the Pension Schemes Act 2015.
  • does not cover every small detail, as the rules are complex – it is a broad guide only.
  • does not cover more complicated arrangements like taking money out of a pension and then putting it back into another scheme (sometimes called ‘tax free cash recycling’). If your plans include these complications, you will need to take professional advice, and will probably have to pay for it.
  • is aimed at people on relatively low incomes with smaller pension savings – generally those who have income of £20,000 a year or less.

We recommend you read it all, but it might help you to understand these key points:

  • Pension flexibility came in from 6 April 2015
  • If you are over 55 and have a ‘defined contribution’ or ‘money purchase’ pension, your pension provider might allow you to take what you like, when you like from your pension
  • Resale of existing annuities deferred until at least April 2017
  • ‘Defined benefit’ or ‘final salary’ pensions will still have stricter rules
  • There is no rush!
If you would like to obtain a copy of this form, please follow this link to our contact form.

 

 

Another way to help Tax Volunteers

Easyfunding

We are a registered charity with the Easyfundraising website, the system works through retailers such as Amazon and John Lewis and basically if you buy on line and go through the Easyfundraising website to do so, your purchase can generate a donation to Tax Help from the retailer.

The process is relatively simple - select your charity; register your name; enter a password; and you can choose to Gift Aid the donations.

All you have to do then is remember to go via the Easyfundraising website when making online purchases.

Bereavement and tax – It’s changing again

There can be a mountain of paperwork to deal with after a bereavement, and everyday matters like dealing with banks, council departments and utility companies can become overwhelming. One area which needs attention in the majority of bereavements is tax. It is also the area most likely to be overlooked or relegated to the bottom of the list of things to do.

The tax affairs of the deceased have to be reconciled to the date of death, as tax may be overpaid or underpaid. And this is where it’s all changing, From October 2014 form R27 (Reclaiming tax or paying tax when someone dies) is being replaced by personalised letters and an automatically produced tax calculation (P800). For those in the self assessment (SA) system the process has been improved to allow ‘in year’ returns, speeding up the whole process.

The new process

The executor, personal representative (PR) or relative informs HMRC of a death - either through the ‘Tell us Once’ service or personally.

  • HMRC sends a letter to the executor, PR or - if not known - the last known address of the deceased. The letter explains the process and that a P800 tax calculation will be sent once HMRC has received the final information from the pension providers, employers, DWP etc.
  • When the executor or PR receives the P800 it is likely that there will be an overpayment and a refund is due - but sometimes there is an underpayment that will need to be paid out of the deceased’s estate.
  • The executor or PR must check the P800 tax calculation against the deceased’s records. If they cannot agree with it they must make immediate contact with HMRC and discuss the matter.
  • The executor or PR should receive the refund or a payment slip about a month later.
  • Those in self-assessment will receive a more tailored service with letters to match their individual circumstances. In most cases the executor will be asked to complete a self assessment tax return.

What if you don’t agree with the P800 tax calculation?

It is not unusual to see errors in calculations and it really is important to check them over carefully.

  • Check against the final statements from pension providers, employers, DWP, etc.
  • Check income from savings, as the P800 may show the previous year’s savings income.
  • Check if there are any adjustments listed and that they are real, as they often appear for no reason.
  • Question anything that doesn’t make sense.

What about the tax affairs of the surviving spouse?

In most cases it is important to review the survivor’s tax situation as this usually changes. Form 161(W) is used to notify HMRC of any changes to their income. This form is mentioned in the new letters but you have to ask for a copy. It is not unusual for a non-taxpayer to become a taxpayer because they have inherited income. The form asks for information on income after the date of death and is a snap shot in time so it is best completed once all the changes have settled down. HMRC then review the tax codes or decide if a self assessment return is required.