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HMRC

Scam Warning: Phone message threatens HMRC lawsuit

HMRCHMRC 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 back 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 more HMRC advice available here.

 

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.”

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.

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, [wpfilebase tag=fileurl id=250 linktext='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

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

[wpfilebase tag=fileurl id=153 linktext='Download the Press Release about this new service' /]

HMRC announces next step to become a tax authority ‘fit for the future’

HMRC OfficeHMRC has today announced the next step in its ten-year modernisation programme to create a tax authority fit for the future, committing to high-quality jobs and the creation of 13 new regional centres over the next five years, serving every nation and region in the UK.

The modernisation programme, now at the halfway point, includes investment in new online services, data analytics, new compliance techniques, new skills and new ways of working, to make it easier for the honest majority of customers to pay their tax, including by improving customer service, and harder for the dishonest minority to cheat the system. The changes have already resulted in over 80% of people filing their Self Assessment returns online and given customers new, simple ways to check their payments, make changes or find answers to questions.

The tax authority, which raised a record £517 billion for public services last year, will open its first new regional centre in 2016-17, with others following between 2017 and 2021.

HMRC’s 58,000 full-time equivalent employees are currently spread across 170 offices around the country, many of which are a legacy of the 1960s and 1970s, which range in size from around 6,000 people to fewer than ten. HMRC will bring its employees together in 13 large, modern regional centres, equipped with the digital infrastructure and training facilities needed to build a more highly-skilled workforce to meet the challenges of bringing in more revenue from those evading tax and improving its customer service to the honest majority.

The transformation supports the Government’s commitment to locate jobs throughout the country. Bringing staff together in large centres will enable people to develop careers up to senior levels, with less need to move around the country, and will support the growth of specialist teams and links with universities and other sources of skilled recruits.

Lin Homer, HMRC’s Chief Executive, said:

HMRC is committed to modern, regional centres serving every region and nation in the UK, with skilled and varied jobs and development opportunities, while also ensuring jobs are spread throughout the UK and not concentrated in the capital.

HMRC has too many expensive, isolated and outdated offices. This makes it difficult for us to collaborate, modernise our ways of working, and make the changes we need to transform our service to customers and clamp down further on the minority who try to cheat the system.

The new regional centres will bring our staff together in more modern and cost-effective buildings in areas with lower rents. They will also make a big contribution to the cities where they are based, providing high-quality, skilled jobs and supporting the Government’s commitment for a national recovery that benefits all parts of the UK.

The changes will enable HMRC to give customers the modern services they now expect at a lower cost to the taxpayer, meeting the Government’s challenge for all departments to do more with less.

HMRC expects the majority of staff to be able to move from their current offices to a regional centre, and is phasing the moves over ten years in order to minimise redundancies. But HMRC will aim to have fewer staff in the future as it streamlines how it works and uses the best of modern technology to reduce costs.

This is a press release issued by HMRC, first published on their website.

‘State Pension top up’ scheme starts 12 October 2015

State Pension Top Up BannerFrom 12 October 2015, a new scheme is being launched helping anyone reaching State Pension age before 6 April 2016 to safeguard their long-term financial security.

Men aged 65 or older and women aged 63 or older are being offered a chance to increase their State Pension by up to £25 a week, giving them guaranteed extra income for life.

The scheme will remain open for 18 months and those who think they can benefit will be able to buy additional State Pension – worth up to £1,300 a year. In most cases, surviving spouses and civil partners will be able to inherit at least 50% of the extra pension.

This is an opportunity for people to increase their guaranteed retirement income for the years ahead with a boost which will be index-linked, helping to protect pensioners and their spouse or civil partner from inflation.

Minister for Pensions, Baroness Altmann said:

This government’s commitment is to provide security for working people at every stage of their lives, and that includes giving people the chance to enjoy a financially secure retirement. We have already committed to protecting pensioner incomes with the triple lock – uprating the basic State Pension by at least 2.5% each year of this Parliament. The new State Pension, coming in from April 2016, will ensure a simpler, more sustainable State Pension for the pensioners of tomorrow.

Top up is an opportunity for people already retired, or reaching State Pension age before April 2016, to boost their later life income. It won’t be right for everybody and it’s important to seek guidance or advice to check if it’s the right option for you. But it could be particularly attractive for those who haven’t had the chance to build significant amounts of State Pension, particularly many women and people who have been self-employed.

With the scheme launching tomorrow, anyone who thinks they might benefit should seek advice and can visit our online calculator and find out more.

The cost of a State Pension top up is based on a person’s age and takes average life expectancy into account. For a 65-year-old, an extra £10 of pension a week will cost £8,900, whereas for a 75-year-old the contribution rate for the same amount of pension is £6,740.

More information on State Pension top up and how to apply is available at www.gov.uk/statepensiontopup. This includes an online calculator which illustrates the contribution rates based on age and the additional amount someone wishes to receive.

Millions of pensioners protected with Winter Fuel Payments

Caxton House SignThe benefit helped ensure pensioners were able to stay warm during the coldest spells of last winter, with a one-off payment of between £100 and £300 to help towards the cost of heating their homes.

The government’s commitment to protect the elderly by maintaining universal pensioner benefits means that nearly 9 million households were helped by the scheme, with 6.7 million women and 5.7 million men benefiting. In total, more than £2.1 billion was paid out.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith MP, said:

Winter can be hard for older people, particularly those who are vulnerable, and they should have the confidence to turn up the heating when they need to, safe in the knowledge that they will be able to afford to pay the bill.

Winter Fuel Payments give people this peace of mind and remain central to our one nation commitment of a compassionate society which puts economic security at its heart.

On top of Winter Fuel Payments, around 2 million households also receive help each year through the Warm Home Discount scheme. This year’s payment is giving more than 1.3 million of the poorest pensioners an extra £140 off their energy bill.

The government also provides Cold Weather Payments of £25 a week, giving an additional layer of support for vulnerable people in low-income groups during the very coldest snaps.

As well as UK recipients, an additional 140,000 expat pensioners living in the European Economic Area or Switzerland also received a payment, costing a total of £24.5 million.

Winter 2015 to 2016

In winter 2015 to 2016 you will qualify for Winter Fuel Payments if:

  • you were born on or before 5 January 1953 (this date changes every year)
  • you will be living in the UK throughout the week of 21 to 27 September 2015

People may qualify for a payment if they live in Switzerland or a European Economic Area (EEA) country and have a genuine link with the UK. This year new rules are being introduced and Winter Fuel Payments will no longer be payable to people in EEA countries which have an average winter temperature that is higher than the warmest region of the UK. This includes people living in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain.