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Praise for HMRC approach to treatment of ‘incapacitated persons’

Published on 12 December 2011

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) has welcomed draft legislation published on 6 December 2011 by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) relating to the treatment of ‘incapacitated persons’ in tax legislation.

LITRG has been campaigning for a change to this legislation for the last eight years.

On reviewing the legislation, LITRG’s Technical Director, Robin Williamson, applauded the action that ministers and HMRC have taken to remove the offensive language that defines ‘incapacitated person’ in tax legislation.

He stressed that for too long, people with disabilities of a kind which prevents their being able to handle their tax and financial affairs have been referred to as ‘idiots, lunatics and insane persons’ in the Taxes Acts, which in the modern age is at best dismissive, at worst downright insulting.

Whilst LITRG have strongly campaigned for an updated definition, it is much more difficult to decide what should replace it. We congratulate HMRC on an open and collaborative consultation which has looked carefully at this difficult problem from many angles.

The solution HMRC has decided upon is to remove the tax-specific provisions dealing with mental incapacity and to rely on the general law of incapacity. In our view, this is sensible. However, much will still depend on how sensitively HMRC are prepared to deal with vulnerable persons who do not have appointees or representatives, and how effective they and their processes will become at recognising and engaging with those who act for others.


Contact: R Williamson (please use form at http://www.litrg.org.uk/ContactUs)

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