Tax Advice Service Interview with Infosound Transcript

Tax Advice Service Interview with Infosound Transcript

Tax advice service interview with Infosound transcript

Presenter:Income tax, National Insurance, benefit entitlement, Tax Credits and allowances and the like can be pretty baffling at the best of times and getting help to sort out a problem or to make sure that you're paying the tax you should be, but not more than that, can be more difficult than it should be, as efforts by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to improve their telephone helpline services are ongoing.

Well,for blind and partially sighted people RNIB can help in this regard. They cannot only talk through specific tax-related issues with an individual, but they can also streamline any referrals that need to be put through to HMRC for sorting out.

To an extent, if the rules allow they can even look back and help to correct retrospective errors in someone's tax payments.

The RNIB tax advicecovers the whole of the UK and it's based in Liverpool. We spoke to Lynette Proctor from the team and Lynette first explained why they had been set up and what they can offer in the way of help.

Lynette:Well we were set up to help raise knowledge and awareness of the tax entitlements that are available to blind and partially sighted people. As you may know, tax is often quite confusing and concerning for anybody, not just our customers. And this is why we are here to help.

We can provide information about an individual's entitlement to tax allowances, benefits and concessions and support people in claiming those, whether that be a VAT exemption, the Blind Person's Allowance, a new Marriage Allowance which is available for people who were born after 5th April 1935, and also the new rules around the tax free interest on savings accounts.

Presenter:I guess people who are au fait with some things would not be surprised to hear that clearly there are benefits that are specific to someone who's blind or partially sighted. And the Blind Person's Allowance I guess when it comes to tax is known. But are you saying there are other things that are specific for someone who lives with sight loss?

Lynette:Specific to sight loss,you have got the VAT exemption that can be available to anybody who has a disability. VAT exemption applies if you're buying any products or making any adaptations to your home because of a disability. And it means that you can have that twenty percent deduction on the amount of money that you are paying.

Presenter: Now you kind of hinted that you can deal with someone's particular situations, so if they give you enough information about their income, maybe their benefit entitlements, the way they live their lives, income and expenditure, usual kind of thing, can you really give them quite a holistic overview of their finances?

Lynette: Yes the more information that we have, then the more we can provide information on their specific entitlement to any concessions or benefits or allowances that are available to them.

We also have access now to a department within HMRC which has been set up to give people extra support. And this is something that we can do phone calls into. We can arrange face to face appointments. And they can help answer any queries that maybe we can’t help with.

We can be part of that call to make sure that people feel supported and know what they're asking about. This can be really good in helping resolve any queries people have if they do not understand anything to do with their tax or they think it may be incorrect.

And this is something that can get resolved very quickly. We managed to skip those long periods of being left on hold by using this extra service and it means that we can also stay part of the call and make sure everything runs smoothly.

We can even request future correspondence to be in your preferred format if need be.

Presenter:I was going to ask you about accessible information because sighted people can get all the information they want, most notably of the HMRC website but also there are leaflets and there is information being sent through the post and so on and so forth. So if you need to understand the tax system, if you can get your brain around it, at least that information is accessible to a sighted person. Can you help with getting or do you know where that same kind of detailed information can be made accessible to a blind or partially sighted person?

Lynette:At RNIB we have fact sheets and information on all the tax allowances that people may be entitled to. If you give us a call we can send that to anybody in whatever their preferred format may be, whether that audio, large print or Braille. And also we can help by getting in touch with HMRC and requesting they send anything in your preferred format as well.

Another thing that we're trying to do at the moment is make sure that their online services are accessible. And we're working in partnership with another service through RNIB called Online Today which is helping people with sight loss be able to access the online services that are available to everybody else.

We also can arrange for people to have face to face visits, or even if they’re even unable to get out from home we can arrange for somebody from HMRC to come to their house.

Or if any of these are not the things that people may require we can also see if there's any other services in their local area that might be able to help as well.

Presenter:And if someone has got a tax issue at the moment, I mean sometimes these things do rumble on, if there’s been a problem from a past tax year,maybe many years ago, can you pick up something that's happened in the past and run with that or do you see yourselves more as a kind of tax planning service?

Lynette:No we can go back at look at things that have happened in previous years. It's not something that we would be able to sort out ourselves but we can help people access the extra support services through HMRC to make sure that they got all the allowances that were they were eligible for.

For example,somebody may have just recently found out about the Blind Person’s Allowance. That can be backdated for up to four years and also can be transferred through to their spouse or civil partner over those four years as well. So that's something we can help organise.

Presenter:And if you need to contact the RNIB tax advice service, whether it's to discuss your own tax affairs or to request one of the information leaflets they've produced inaccessible formats, you can phone them on:

0151 702 5721

Or email:

October 2015