HMRC has asked ICAEW to share some tips to help protect taxpayers when they interact with the tax system. An edited version is shared below.
Don't share your tax login details
Never share your HMRC login details with anyone. Treat your tax login details with the same care as your online banking login details.
Your HMRC login details give access to your personal information. This includes allowing you to provide bank account details for repayments. Someone using those details can make an incorrect repayment claim and get it paid to them. There has been a recent increase in such cases. This could leave you having to pay back the full value of any incorrect claim made on your behalf.
If you have a tax agent, they do not need your HMRC login details and should not ask you to share them.
How to avoid tax phishing scams
Be on your guard if someone contacts you saying they are from HMRC and asks you to share personal or financial details, or urgently transfer money. Never let yourself be rushed. Consider contacting HMRC directly, making sure you use a phone number from GOV.UK
Tax scams come in many forms. Some offer a rebate or claim that your tax account details need to be updated. Other scams threaten immediate arrest for tax avoidance or evasion. These types of calls, emails and messages should set alarm bells ringing, so take your time and check HMRC scams advice on GOV.UK.
Claiming tax refunds
Tax refunds and reliefs can be claimed directly from HMRC by going to GOV.UK. Many PAYE taxpayers do this themselves to avoid incurring a fee. Other taxpayers choose to use a tax agent to do this on their behalf.
If you choose to appoint an agent for advice, including to make a repayment claim on your behalf, it’s sensible to:
- Read the tax agent’s terms and conditions so you understand the fees you’ll pay, the service you’ll receive and any legal contract you might be signing. ICAEW member firms will set out the terms in an engagement letter.
- Read customer reviews about the agent to ensure they are trustworthy.
- Take time when deciding on whether to use an agent, especially if you’re feeling rushed.
- Never share your HMRC login details with the agent.
Find out more on GOV.UK about what you should look for if you’re thinking of using a tax agent to deal with HMRC on your behalf. ICAEW member firms are required to comply with the Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT). PCRT sets out the fundamental principles and standards for tax planning that all ICAEW members are expected to follow.
How to avoid and recognise pension scams
Pension scammers design attractive offers to persuade you to transfer your pension pot to them, or to release funds from it. If a scheme is registered with HMRC for tax purposes, it does not mean it is endorsed by the government.
Pension schemes are responsible for carrying out checks on transfers to other pension schemes and ensuring that they comply with the law. HMRC encourages people to get professional advice before transferring their pensions.
Information on the different types of pension scams can be found on the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) website.
Pension holders aged between 44 and 66 are most at risk of falling victim to pension scams. Look out for these signs:
- contact out of the blue;
- promises of high, guaranteed returns;
- a free ‘pension review’;
- an offer to access your pension before the normal minimum pension age, currently set at 55;
- pressure to act quickly.
Before dealing with a firm, make sure they’re on the Financial Conduct Authority’s Financial Services Register. Check that they are authorised for the regulated activity that you require. Use only the contact details on the FCA’s register. Scammers will often pretend to be a registered firm.
Call connection services
If you need to call HMRC, don’t use costly call connection services that are advertised online. Contact HMRC directly on its 0300 helpline numbers that are free or charged at the national landline rate and can be found on GOV.UK.
Tax avoidance schemes
HMRC publishes details of schemes that it believes are being used to avoid paying tax due and should therefore not be entered into.
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