Tax Refund Organisations – a health warning

Published on 3 December 2013

In August 2013, the LITRG published ‘The Tax Repayment System and Tax Refund Organisations – a call for action’, a report highlighting areas in which the tax repayment system needs to be eased for the low-income taxpayer. One of the issues we raised was the need to help taxpayers make informed choices about using a tax agent.

Some unscrupulous tax refund organisations market their services in such a way as to suggest that HMRC recommend them or that indeed they are providing a service on behalf of HMRC. You should be aware that all agents have to register with HMRC in order to enable them to deal with the tax affairs of their clients. This registration process is simply a matter of providing basic business detail, such as the firm’s name and contact details. This registration does not mean that the HMRC endorses the business. HMRC have published information on their website about agents who market their business as registered agents of HMRC.

If you think you are due a refund of tax, you may be able to deal directly with HMRC in order to obtain the repayment. Depending on your particular tax position, this can often be very straightforward.

LITRG recognises that some taxpayers prefer to obtain assistance in dealing with their tax affairs. If you need help with claiming a tax refund, or with any other aspect of your tax position, it is important that you seek help from a reputable tax adviser or accountant.

HMRC tell you how you can authorise an adviser or accountant to act on your behalf.

LITRG cannot recommend particular agents, but it is often a good idea to seek advice from a firm that is a member of a tax or accountancy body:

Chartered Institute of Taxation – http://www.tax.org.uk/
Association of Taxation Technicians – https://www.att.org.uk/
Irish Tax Institute – http://www.taxinstitute.ie/
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales – https://www.icaew.com/
Chartered Accountants Ireland – https://www.charteredaccountants.ie/
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland – http://icas.org.uk/
Association of Certified Chartered Accountants – http://www.accaglobal.com/
Association of Accounting Technicians – https://www.aat.org.uk/

If you are on a low income, you may be able to obtain free assistance from one of the tax charities:

TaxAid – http://taxaid.org.uk/
Tax Help for Older People – http://www.taxvol.org.uk/

There is information on the warning signs of an unscrupulous agent on the website of TaxAid.

(03-12-2013)

Contact: Joanne Walker (please use form at http://www.litrg.org.uk/Contact-Us)

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