Published in December 1998, “Older people on low incomes – the case for a friendlier tax system” was the very first report of the Low Income Tax Reform Group (LITRG), a committee of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, which is the leading professional body in the United Kingdom concerned solely with taxation (www.litrg.org.uk).
In the absence of any real action on the part of HM Revenue and Customs to address the problems highlighted therein, LITRG initiated Tax Help for Older People in April 2001 as a one year pilot project in Wolverhampton and in rural areas of the South West of England, chosen as representing very different areas but having in common a substantial population of older people on low incomes. The objective was to provide accessible tax help and advice for older, more vulnerable and unrepresented people on low or modest incomes. Funding for the pilot initially came from the CIOT and the Nuffield Foundation and it was established with the help of just a small number of volunteers.
The success and take up of the service led to the eventual establishment of Tax Volunteers as a charity in 2004 specifically to run Tax Help for Older People services. Tax Volunteers is an independent company limited by guarantee and is a UK registered charity, No.1102276.
The charity retains its close links with the Low Income Tax Reform Group. LITRG aims to give a voice to those who cannot afford to pay for tax advice and campaigns to achieve improvement and change within both Revenue and Government, calling when appropriate on evidence gained from our experience and that of our many clients.
Our funding comes from a variety of sources; the CIOT itself through LITRG and the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT), donations and grants from Trusts & Foundations, the corporate sector and Central Government. Such a varied funding network helps Tax Volunteers to remain completely independent and provide impartial advice and advocacy for those who really need it.
If you would like to find out more about how you can help support our work please visit ‘Support our Work’.
Our Advice Service
We probably all harbour the ideal that as we grow older our affairs will become simpler to manage. Unfortunately for many this is not the reality, and in particular where personal taxation is concerned.
The changes to the state pension age, the propensity for people to work longer (even if part-time) and the move away from a single lifetime employment to a series of jobs means that for many people their tax affairs become more complicated when they reach pensionable age.
As a result, there are many older people in the UK who need help and advice with their tax affairs but have no access to affordable, trusted advice or a social or family network they can turn to for help. They may be facing retirement, be confused by a tax demand or completion of complex forms, or suffering a recent bereavement. All of these scenarios can cause unnecessary anxiety and stress and contribute to poor well-being.
Tax Help for Older People is a service provided by Tax Volunteers, an independent organisation with the dual objectives of providing free professional advice on personal tax to older people who could not otherwise afford to pay for it and of improving wider knowledge and awareness of the tax system.
Tax Help is supported by both professional tax bodies and by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and works in partnership with voluntary and statutory bodies concerned with older peoples welfare. It remains, however, a completely independent organisation, offering a fully professional and confidential service to its clients
What sort of problems will Tax Help deal with?
Any personal tax problem, no matter how complex, or indeed how minor, it may seem. You can have your PAYE notice of coding checked, or get help with form filling, reclaiming an overpayment of tax or replying to a letter from HMRC. You may simply be looking for some reassurance and peace of mind. We understand that many elderly people may not have the confidence to talk with officials, or perhaps are vulnerable or confused by tax matters.
Where we work
Tax Help for Older People operates right across the UK – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Who are our volunteer tax advisers?
They are all tax professionals who are giving their time and skills to Tax Help for free. They act totally independently of both HMRC and the firms they work for and provide a completely confidential service. All our tax advisors provide a caring, friendly service that is jargon-free and tailored to individual client’s needs.
How do I get help?
Very simply. Just telephone the Tax Help lo-call helpline on 0845 601 3321 or 01308 488066. If the phone is engaged or the office is not staffed, please leave your name and telephone number on the voice-mail and Tax Help will call you back. Or you can contact us via email, post or the website enquiry form.
Our postal address:
Tax Help for Older People
Pineapple Business Park
Dorset DT6 5DB
Our email address: email@example.com
What will happen?
If you telephone us you will speak directly to an adviser who will seek to resolve your tax problem with you over the phone. We will establish your own personal client advice record on our database so that any one of our advisers is aware of your details if and when you call again. (We will never share your personal details with anyone outside of the Charity). If your problem is complex or you would benefit from a more direct tax support service then we will arrange for you to visit one of our local tax surgeries in your area or have a home visit from one of our expert tax volunteers.
Whatever the problem, we will work with you until the tax issue is resolved to your satisfaction and you are always free to call us again in the future if further tax issues arise.
Our constitution requires us to help those whose income makes it difficult or unrealistic to pay for tax advice and we therefore set guidelines of around £20,000 gross income as an upper limit to be eligible. We will, however, be flexible where other circumstances e.g. disability or advanced age suggest an easing of this limit. By older people, we mean roughly 60+ but we will still help those in their fifties who have suffered bereavement, redundancy, ill-health retirement etc. It is often these events which trigger the tax problems which Tax Help encounters in its clients rather than the birth date. Those caring for an eligible older person, whether family, friend or professional, may also request help on their behalf. Power of Attorney is not necessary.
This is an all year round service but generally not available during weekends and public holidays.
Resources and Amenities
Tax Help deals with over 10,000 clients a year and 23,000 tax sessions, of these, approximately 4,500 will require a face to face appointment which will be carried out by a volunteer tax adviser. Tax Help has arrangements with many organisations like Age Scotland, CAB’s and local councils who are already trusted by our clients and can provide neutral accommodation. Where it is not possible for the client to visit a venue or if the volunteer adviser prefers then a home visit can be arranged. We have over 450 volunteers throughout the UK.
The free tax advice service is available to all who meet the qualifying criteria. Those caring for an eligible older person, whether family, friend or professional, may also request help on their behalf. Power of Attorney is not necessary criteria.
- West Kilbride
- Monday to Friday | The Tax Help for Older People telephones lines are open to clients every weekday between 9am and 5pm. Volunteer Tax Adviser Surgeries are al