Do you work in the voluntary sector? Find out how TaxAid can help you get the right information for your clients.

Many of you working in the voluntary sector may have noticed an increase in the number of tax questions you are being asked by your clients. As HMRC have closed most of their offices, where individuals could find face-to-face help with their tax position, more people are seeking answers from other voluntary agencies. Not everyone feels comfortable using HMRC’s online services, or they struggle to get through on their telephone helplines.

If you are a voluntary sector advisor, you will have a wealth of knowledge to share with clients about your particular area of expertise. This is not usually tax-based, which puts you in a tricky position when you are faced with clients that are struggling to fathom their tax position.

How can TaxAid help?

As well as providing free, confidential tax advice to individuals on a low income (under £20,000), TaxAid also gives free online training to other organisations. This training is designed so that a frontline volunteer can decide whether or not their client needs help from HMRC, TaxAid or sometimes another organisation.

The charity does stress that it is not an alternative to HMRC, but can “help with a tax problem if HMRC can’t sort it out”.

For example, some enquiries will simply need directing to the relevant HMRC helpline that has been set up specifically for that area of tax. Like the number that is purely for anyone with a self assessment situation: 0300 200 3310.

Specific issues to refer to TaxAid

The sorts of things that you might come across for referral to TaxAid are:

  • When your client simply doesn’t understand the communication they’ve had with HMRC or they need assistance making accurate calculations.
  • If a client of yours needs independent advice because of issues like being fined by HMRC, or being under investigation.
  • When a taxpayer is in a complicated tax situation, or one that has been going on for a long period of time.

The online training goes into much more detail that really clarifies the best way for you to support any clients with tax questions.

Taxaid’s extra resources

For extra back-up, there is even a separate phoneline for voluntary advisers to speak to TaxAid for their clients, 0300 330 5477. It is available 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm, Monday to Friday, and they specifically ask that you do not give this number to clients. They have a separate number to call themselves, 0345 120 3779 between 10am and 12pm on weekdays.

What types of issues do TaxAid not deal with?

This is an important question that is fully covered during their training. TaxAid only advises those on less than £20,000 and does not cover corporate tax, tax planning, Tax Credits and OAP tax situations. TaxAid regularly point people over 60 years old to Tax Help for Older People, as they are the specialists in that particular area.

A superb resource

TaxAid’s online free training is a great way for the voluntary sector to feel confident performing the initial first aid on a client’s tax problem. You will be able to assess where best to signpost your clients, making dealing with time sensitive issues much more efficiently.

You can also find reliable, clear tax information on Tax Banana’s website. Like TaxAid, we explain any necessary technical terms and write the rest in plain English. You are entitled to the accessible information you need to fully understand your tax position.