Many tax practitioners support the two tax advice charities, TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People. Brian Palmer explains why.
As tax practitioners, we are only too aware that tax can be challenging for our clients – and that not only the better off have tax problems. Happily, most people can seek advice from practitioners, who steer them carefully through the maze to resolve their problems.
Some people are not so lucky. They have serious tax problems but can’t afford the professional advice essential to help them through. Often, they are vulnerable for other reasons as well. John’s story is a good example.
John has had behavioural and mental health issues since childhood and lives at home, supported by his family. It was John’s mother who approached TaxAid. She was very worried about John; although he had never worked or claimed benefits, he kept receiving ‘brown envelopes’. At her insistence, he finally opened them to reveal a tax debt of £15,000 and a threat of bankruptcy action. It turned out that some years previously John had registered a partnership with a friend. This never came to anything but the tax debt included determinations and late filing penalties.
TaxAid was able to get the tax returns and late filing penalties withdrawn. The charity also made a claim for special relief to displace the determinations, ultimately obtaining agreement from HMRC to cancel the debt. Much to his mother’s relief, this had a positive and significant impact on John’s behaviour and helped to keep him on track with a successful drug rehabilitation programme.
John’s situation is quite common in that tax debt catches up with people when they are trying to get their lives back on track. Others get caught up as a result of serious illness, family issues and bereavement, homelessness or business failure. Often, the problem hasn’t started with tax. But the resulting tax problem can become critical and overwhelming if they can’t obtain professional advice.
This is where TaxAid, and its sister charity Tax Help for Older People, come in. They were both founded by tax practitioners and many practitioners support their work today, either through donations or through volunteering.
The two charities specialise in helping vulnerable people, like Luke, who need tax advice but can’t afford to pay for it. They give advice and where it is needed act for the client. The help they give makes a huge difference, is frequently life changing and gets people back on their feet.
Julie Cameron is a tax practitioner who has seen a number of their cases first hand and says ‘Sitting in on client interviews made a deep impression on me. I gained first hand insight into how badly vulnerable people can suffer because of tax issues when they cannot get professional help – and I saw the special skills the charities bring to the particular tax problems their clients face; and the fantastic job they do working with vulnerable people.’
Demand for help from the two tax advice charities already outstrips their resources and it is growing. This is why they launched their Bridge the Gap appeal to the tax profession.
Will you join the many practitioners who already support this campaign – and so provide the tax profession’s safety net?
Donate now – and help deliver this essential service