Taxes can seem overwhelming, whether you are a self-employed sole trader or the owner of a larger business. Luckily, you can get someone to file your taxes and deal with HMRC on your behalf. The most important thing is to pay the correct amount of taxes on time, so HMRC will accept tax submissions and payments from professionals or friends and family if they are registered to do so.
You may have various different tax responsibilities, including Corporation Tax, PAYE and Self Assessment. A tax agent can help you with the taxes that you have registered them for. You can also gain financial advice from charitable organisations if you meet their criteria.
In this article, we'll look at where you can get financial assistance with your taxes, including the range of professionals you can consult and charities who can advise you for free.
There are a variety of financial professionals who you can pay to file and send your tax returns. This includes an agent such as accountants and tax advisers who meet HMRC's standards. You can also appoint a VAT agent to help with VAT, or a solicitor to guide you through Inheritance Tax and other types of taxes you must pay when buying and selling properties.
Alternatively, you can ask friends and family to help you with your taxes. However, you are still responsible for paying the correct tax in the set timeframe. This means that you can face penalties if HMRC finds that you have underpaid tax, even if you asked someone else to file the taxes on your behalf.
Continue reading to find out where you find help with your taxes, the types of taxes you have to pay, and the deadlines you must meet each financial year.
Agents that can help you with your taxes include professional accountants, tax advisers and nominated friends or relatives. You can also get advice from someone who works for a voluntary organisation.
You can appoint an agent to file your taxes and correspond with HMRC. In the instance that you have to file a Self Assessment tax return, the agent will be sent all relevant correspondence by HMRC, barring tax bills and refunds. Otherwise, HMRC will send everything to you directly.
The agent that you appoint must meet the following standards set by HMRC:
- Integrity: disclose all relevant information to HMRC.
- Not imply that they act on behalf of or are regulated by HMRC
- Professional competence and due care: maintain correct and up-to-date knowledge of taxes
- Comply with data protection regulations and tax laws
- Maintain a functional system security
- Professional behaviour
- Clear terms of engagement with clients
- Advise clients on steps to correct and avoid tax errors
Agents must also adhere to the following principles when giving advice on tax planning:
- Base tax plans on realistic assessments and a credible view of the law
- Advise clients when there is uncertainty within the law
- Exercise professional judgement
Registering an agent to help with your taxes will give them certain permissions to act on your behalf and view your tax information. They will only be able to access and submit information for the tax that they have registered for, such as Self Assessment or Corporation Tax. However, the agent can register for more than one type of tax to gain access.
Below are the different permissions that are offered to an agent when they are authorised for each type of tax.
If your agent is registered for Self Assessment, they can do the following on your behalf:
- discuss past and current returns with HMRC
- View and update details, including sources of income
- Give HMRC your bank details for repayments
- Access your Self Assessment details such as your National Insurance number and Unique Taxpayer Reference
- Submit income and expenses updates
If your agent is registered to act on your behalf for trusts, they will be given access to your financial and personal information for your trust. However, they will not have access to the Trust Registration Service if you have only completed the 64-8 authority form. Instead, they will need to register via your Organisation Government Gateway account.
After registering to act on your behalf for Individual PAYE, your agent can access the following:
- your employment history
- your taxable benefits (including medical insurance and company car details)
- pension details
- PAYE start and end dates
After registering as an authorised agent for your Corporation Tax, your agent can:
- access your company's financial information
- update your company's contact details and communication
Once registered, your agent can do the following online, through the post or over the phone:
- your VAT
- sign documents on your behalf
- update and submit your VAT information
- view your VAT liabilities and payments
- appeal against a late VAT submission or payment
You may decide to start filing and submitting taxes yourself or change to another agent. To do this, you can use your business tax account to remove their permission for Making Tax Digital for VAT and Making Tax Digital for Income Tax. You can log into your account, click on the 'Manage Account' section and then click on the relevant agent account sub-sections to remove authorisation from the agent.
Following these steps, you can also remove the agent's permissions for taxes such as Corporation Tax, PAYE and Gambling Tax. You will also need to make sure that you have removed permissions from Self Assessment.
Alternatively, you can remove permissions by writing to the following address:
Central Agent Authorisation Team
National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
The letter will need to contain your full name and the name and address of the agent that you want to be removed from your account. You will also need to include the agent's code if you know it, along with the tax reference for the services that you are removing them from. The letter must also contain your company or partnership’s Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR).
You may not know which services the agent has been authorised to use. In this instance, you will need to send your tax reference numbers and identifiers so that the agent can be removed from tax services that are connected to the reference numbers.
You can ask a friend or family member to manage your taxes online as a 'trusted helper' This individual can view your Income Tax to check that you are paying the correct amount, view and update your personal tax account and claim a tax refund. Despite these authorisations, you still have a legal responsibility for your own taxes and therefore will be subject to penalties if HMRC does not receive your submission or payment.
Another option is to arrange for an intermediary if you are ill, have a disability or do not understand English. This individual can deal with HMRC on your behalf and help you to complete the required forms. You will need to contact HMRC and appoint an intermediary by writing to the following address:
National Insurance contributions and Employers Office
HM Revenue and Customs
The letter will need to include your full name and address, your UTR and the name and address of the person that you are appointing. You will also need to sign the letter as evidence that you have authorised the intermediary.
Another option is to appoint an individual power of attorney over your taxes. This individual will be able to make tax decisions on your behalf and assist you with making tax decisions. You will need to contact HMRC to notify them of the power of attorney. This can be done by sending an original or certified copy of the power of attorney.
If you are a UK resident and are authorising them to manage your tax credits, you can send the original or certified copy to:
Tax Credit Office
IAA Team 2, Area E
St Mark’s House
St Mary’s Street
If you are authorising them to access other tax affairs, you can send the original or certified copy to:
Pay As You Earn and Self Assessment
HM Revenue and Customs
Non-UK residents can send the information to:
HM Revenue and Customs
Benton Park View
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Individuals who earn a low income may be able to gain tax assistance from a charity organisation. They can give free tax help on Late Filing Penalties, tax debt and other issues.
Tax Aid is a free and confidential service that specialises in tax debt. However, they do not offer support or advice on areas such as Corporation Tax, VAT or tax credits. You can contact Tax Aid through a national helpline or through face-to-face appointments in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle.
Individuals who are around 60 years or older and have an income of less than £20,000 can get free advice from Tax Help For Older People. The charitable organisation offers volunteer-run Income Tax assistance from tax professionals and can help with personal tax problems such as PAYE, claiming a tax refund and filling out forms. They can also help you contact HMRC online or through the post. The only area that they do not offer help with is Self Assessment for those in self-employment, although you can contact Tax Aid for this instead.
It's important to file your tax returns or nominate someone who can do it on your behalf, otherwise, you may face penalties for late or missed tax returns.
HMRC will give you a £100 penalty if your tax return is up to three months late. This amount will increase past the three-month mark or if you pay your tax bill after the deadline. You will also have to pay interest on late payments.
You cannot appeal against the penalty by stating that were relying on someone else to file your tax return and bill. This is because you are still legally responsible, even if you appointed an agent to act on your behalf. Some of the accepted excuses are as followed:
- You had an unexpected hospital stay
- a close relative or partner died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline
- online service issues with HMRC
- computer or software failure
You can appoint a tax professional, friend or family member to act as a tax agent on your behalf. HMRC must be notified of this nomination via their online form or through the post. This will allow the agent to access the specified tax service that you have nominated them for, such as PAYE and Corporation Tax. They will be able to access and update the relevant tax details, such as your tax history and upcoming tax returns.
If you earn a low income, you may be able to get free tax advice and financial tools from charitable organisations such as Tax Aid and Tax Help For Older People. They will be able to advise you on tax decisions and help you to contact HMRC if you are unsure about your tax obligations.
Whilst there are various ways that you can appoint an agent to help you with your taxes, it's important to remember that you are legally responsible for your tax returns and payments. You can face penalties if you miss deadlines, which can cost you upwards of £100. If you are unsure about your taxes, it's a good idea to directly contact HMRC as they will be able to advise you.