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The nightmares of tax can be real

Gary Millner explains how tax charities, such as TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People, can help banish the nightmares of tax.

Bridge the gapWe’ve all experienced the relief in waking up and finding a nightmare wasn’t real. However, David’s nightmare was very real – a £3,000 tax demand. He knew it was plain wrong, but he didn’t know how to prove it. HMRC had given him a list of employments for which they said he owed tax and told him to write to his former employers if he disagreed the figures. This he had done, but they hadn’t replied, and the tax demand stood.

A nightmare for anyone, but if you can’t afford advice because you’re on a very low income, where do you turn? In desperation he went to Citizens Advice who guided him to TaxAid.

TaxAid explored the alleged employments with HMRC and found a number were with phoenix companies and, in examining the timescale, of the eight alleged employments, several simply couldn’t have happened.

Reconstructing David’s employment record, revised employment income figures were agreed with HMRC showing that the £3,000 was not owed at all – and, as he had already paid some of this through a coding restriction, he actually received a refund of £1,100. David was delighted, both with the refund and because the nightmare that had dominated his life had been removed.

Advice changes lives

TaxAid and its sister charity, Tax Help for Older People, assisted 21,000 people last year – who, like David, desperately needed tax advice but couldn’t afford to pay for it. They provide advice, where needed acting for the client and putting people back on their feet. In effect they provide the profession’s safety net for vulnerable people in crisis with their tax.

Their Bridge the Gap appeal seeks support from the profession for this vital work. Last year they raised £186,000 – the best year yet. This year, their funding environment is more challenging: they need to raise £300,000 just to stand still.

How you can support

1. Make a personal donation 
Join our many supporters in the tax profession and make a regular donation. Just £8.50 a month will resolve the tax problem for a vulnerable person.

2. Take part in a sponsored event
Organise a fundraising event in your team or take part in an event we have secured places on and seek sponsorship for TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People. Examples include:
a) London, Lee Valley VeloPark: 1 mile, 5k, 10k, 10 mile & half Marathon, Saturday 30 November 2019, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This is one of the London 2012 Olympic venues and the event is ideal for teams with people at different fitness levels. If you are interested, contact Rose Over at Rose.Over@taxvol.org.uk

b) The tax charities’ Kilimanjaro challenge, 17-27 September 2020
Want something amazing to look forward to? We are working with Action Challenge to offer supporters the opportunity to walk in a group to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. We have a lot of interest already in this 11-day trek and hope to have our own team. Advance planning is essential, and our partners have excellent experience of organising and running this trek. If you are interested contact Tina Riches at tina@richestax.co.uk

About the author

Gary Millner, CEO of TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People