Where to get help with tax if you do not speak English
For a long time, LITRG have been concerned about the problems that migrant workers to the UK might face in understanding and navigating the UK tax system. To help address this we have made a set of videos, translated into 12 different languages, to help migrant workers understand where to get tax help.
Moving to another country to work can be daunting, especially if you don’t speak the language well. Add a tax problem into the mix, along with a lack of experience of UK systems and perhaps cultural differences which mean that you don’t feel comfortable approaching the authorities – and it is easy to understand why we sometimes hear from migrant workers with tax issues that have grown disproportionately.
With this in mind, and with the help of some volunteer translators, LITRG have posted a short set of videos setting out ‘Where to get help with tax if you do not speak English’ in 12 different languages:
We hope the videos will be found by workers who are searching on the internet for information and will be considered a useful and worthwhile resource.
Can you help?
We would encourage those reading this article, who have connections to migrant communities, to share and link to the videos to ensure they can reach migrant workers who might need them.
We are very grateful to our volunteer translators. We are aware that there will be other languages where there is a ‘user need’, and we plan to add more languages as soon as we can. We would love to hear from people who speak additional foreign languages who may be able to help increase the suite of videos. If you would be willing to give up a little of your time for this good cause, please get in touch.
What’s the background?
HMRC do not, as standard, provide any information to migrant workers in their own language. They used to provide a useful introductory guide to the UK tax system ‘Coming to work in the UK? We’ll show you the way to pay your taxes.’ in Bulgarian, Czech, English, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian and Slovakian, but this was removed. Our understanding is that it was removed as government thought that it did not help people to integrate. (It is still available to view in the Government archives.)
We think it is important for HMRC to produce introductory material in other languages. In a post Brexit landscape, where short-term overseas seasonal worker schemes are common, it is not realistic to expect workers to learn English to the standard required to converse with HMRC about their taxes – that is, if they can get through the very lengthy broadcast messages and voice recognition system on the HMRC phonelines. Given the problems that already exist with exploitation in the temporary labour market, which can often manifest for workers in problems with their pay and taxes, we think it is vital that these workers understand that there is support available and where to get help if they need it.
It is worth saying that some other government bodies provide a range of information for those working in the UK, available in different languages and formats to meet the diverse needs of workers. See for instance Workers’ Rights leaflets from the Gangmaster’s & Labour Abuse Authority and Information from the Health and Safety Executive.