Many tax issues can be resolved by contacting HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). However, you may encounter some problems that require additional help. Some people may hire the services of a financial advisor, but this option isn't available to everyone.
Approximately 20% of the population lives in low-income households. This group of people often struggle to pay for tax advice, which can lead to overpayment of taxes and further financial difficulties. To combat this issue, two tax charities have been set up in the UK to help give low-income individuals access to free tax advice.
TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People are charities designed to help individuals with low incomes understand their taxes and resolve any issues they may encounter. If you are eligible, you can use these charities to get advice on a variety of tax-related issues.
You can ask someone to apply for TaxAid on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself because of a disability or medical condition or if you don't speak English.
We know navigating the tax system can be complicated, so we've made this handy guide to help you find out where you can get the assistance you need.
TaxAid is designed to help those on low incomes by giving tax advice on issues that HMRC cannot advise on. You can apply to TaxAid for free and confidential advice on business or personal tax concerns. The advisors can help you to fill out forms and calculate what tax you need to pay to HMRC.
A tax advisor from the charity can help you to appeal against late penalty notices and calculate any debt that you owe HMRC. They can also explain your PAYE code and how to calculate your tax. You can ask the tax professional to help you understand the letters and bills that you have received from HMRC and how you need to respond.
Another service offered by TaxAid is assistance to individuals who are starting their self-employment journey. TaxAid can help you to understand what tax you need to pay and how you should complete your Self Assessment tax returns. This ensures that you don't miss any tax returns and that your finances are properly documented.
Aside from offering face-to-face services and remote correspondence with tax advisors, the TaxAid website also features a lot of information on the following topics:
- National Insurance (both for employed and self-employed individuals)
- Tax on pensions and savings
- Tax on renting properties
- Tax responsibilities related to leaving and entering the UK
TaxAid doesn't offer support on Tax Credits, DWP benefits, Limited Companies or council tax. It also doesn't offer tax planning advice.
There is a concern in the UK that individuals from low-income backgrounds cannot access the tax advice that they need. In the past, this has led to some people overpaying taxes or being made bankrupt due to incorrect estimated tax figures. These issues largely occurred because underrepresented people didn't understand the tax rules or didn't know how to appeal tax decisions.
To combat the issues faced by individuals with low incomes, tax professionals formed TaxAid. The purpose of the charity is to help make sure individuals understand the system and pay the correct tax. The charity is also designed to advise when individuals experience issues with their taxes.
The charity's main aim is to help the most disadvantaged 20% of unrepresented UK taxpayers who would otherwise be unable to receive professional advice due to costs.
Although TaxAid can help you to resolve tax issues, you should try to contact HMRC first. The government department should be your first point of contact if you can't pay your tax on time, you disagree with a tax decision or you require additional help because you don't understand English.
HMRC also offers additional help to individuals who have any of the following:
- autism or dyslexia
- cognitive or physical difficulties
- mental health conditions (such as depression or anxiety)
- sensory difficulties (such as a hearing or visual impairment)
You can obtain additional help from HMRC with tax-related issues if you are experiencing domestic abuse, including economic abuse. HMRC also offers support to individuals who are hospitalised.
HMRC offers a text service with Relay UK for individuals who are unable to use a telephone because of speech or hearing disabilities. You can access this service by texting 18001, followed by the relevant department's contact number. Alternatively, you can contact HMRC's support team through webchat.
In some circumstances, HMRC offers a face-to-face appointment service or home visits for individuals with additional needs. You can apply for this service on the government website.
The government offers a free TaxAid service to individuals who earn a low income and have been unable to resolve their tax issues with HMRC. A low income is generally considered to be an income of £380 or less per week (before tax), which equate to £20,000 per year.
If you are on a low income but are aged 60 years or older, you are eligible for help from Tax Help for Older People. However, you will need to contact TaxAid if you are over 60 years old and self-employed.
If you are earning a low income, you can contact TaxAid by phoning their helpline on 0345 120 3779. However, you should always try to resolve your issues by contacting HMRC before you reach out to TaxAid. They can usually advise taxpayers on queries such as PAYE codes and tax deductions from payslips.
TaxAid's office opening times are Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. You can leave a message if an advisor is not available when you phone, and they will try to get back to you as soon as possible. Make sure that you leave your name and contact number in the voicemail so that the advisors know how to get in touch.
Alternatively, you can fill out an online form that details your tax problem. You will need to include your contact details, such as your full name, email address and residential address. The form will also ask you to include your total weekly income before tax to prove that you are eligible for the service. It can take up to 14 days after the form has been submitted for advisors to reply.
You will need to specify at the top of the form if you have difficulties using the phone because of a disability, or health condition or if you are overseas.
Along with the national helpline, TaxAid also offers face-to-face services in London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Newcastle upon Tyne. In addition, Lancaster University and the University of Central Lancashire run the North West Tax Clinic in collaboration with TaxAid. This is the first student-led tax clinic and is run by university students, along with trained supervisors.
However you contact TaxAid, it's a good idea to have the relevant paperwork and HMRC correspondence on hand so that the tax advisors can understand your case and help you as quickly as possible.
You can appoint someone to act on your behalf to deal with HMRC-related issues. This also means that they can apply to TaxAid for help on your behalf if you are eligible. The nominated individual could be a family member, friend or professional.
Before HMRC or TaxAid can discuss your tax affairs with them, you need to confirm that you are happy for them to discuss your situation with the nominated person. HMRC and TaxAid may accept informal confirmation that you want to nominate someone else to help you. This could be as simple as speaking to you on the phone and asking your permission.
You may also need to confirm the nomination by sending a letter to HMRC (either written by yourself or the nominated individual). The letter should include details of your situation so that they can adapt their correspondence if necessary. HMRC may be able to arrange a face-to-face appointment or home visit if the situation calls for it.
At your request, HMRC and TaxAid will be able to send duplicate correspondence to you and your nominated aid. This includes tax returns, forms and confirmation of details on topics such as penalties.
Tax Help for Older People is a dedicated service aimed at helping individuals who are aged 60 years or older and are earning a low income (£20,000 or less each year). Carers (including family, friends and professionals) who look after an eligible older person can apply for tax help on their behalf.
You can apply for tax help from this service by phoning the national helpline on 01308 488066. You can leave a message if the line is busy or the office is closed, and a tax advisor will get back to you as soon as they can. Make sure to include your name and contact number if you leave a voicemail.
Tax Help for Older People
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TaxAid is a charity that aims to give tax advice to individuals from low-income backgrounds. This is usually classed as people who earn £20,000 or less per year (after tax). The charity offers the support of financial advisors who can help you with a variety of tax-related topics. They can also help you to fill out forms, write a Self Assessment tax return or understand your National Insurance contributions.
You can apply for help from TaxAid by contacting them on the phone or using their online form. In the instance that you are unable to do your own taxes, you can appoint another individual to act on your behalf. You can also ask HMRC for extra assistance if you have a disability or medical condition that prevents you from using the telephone or online services.
TaxAid offers both personal and business tax to both employed and self-employed individuals. However, if you are aged 60 years or older and employed, you can apply for help from Tax Help for Older People. This service operates in the same way as TaxAid as it also gives free tax advice, but it is specifically designed for older individuals earning a low income. Unfortunately, Tax Help for Older People does not offer support to self-employed people.