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Tax credits: LITRG seeks feedback on alternative website

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The CIOT’s Low Incomes Tax Reform Group has invited feedback on a new website providing advisers with information on ‘HMRC products', including tax credits and child benefit.

Revenuebenefits has been developed by LITRG in partnership with the London Advice Services Alliance. ‘We are extremely grateful to HMRC who have been supportive of this venture in a range of different ways,’ said LITRG.

‘Taxes are complex, but tax credits are even more so. There is wide array of advisers who do not deal with HMRC on a daily basis, but who need to give appropriate and accurate advice to the millions of vulnerable people who are entitled to benefits which are administered by HMRC,’ it added.

LITRG has been critical of the standard of information provided by HMRC on tax credits and, in particular, HMRC guidance for tax credits claimants who have been offered childcare vouchers.

In written evidence given last November to the Treasury Sub-Committee’s inquiry into the administration and effectiveness of HMRC, LITRG said: ‘Unrepresented taxpayers rely on HMRC to give them accurate and comprehensive information in a way they can understand and in a format accessible to them.

‘If the information coming from HMRC is inaccurate or misleading, or incomplete, or is incomprehensible (for example, written in technical language or simply using too much jargon) or inaccessible (for instance, information held only on HMRC’s website is inaccessible to people who lack access to the internet or the skills to use it), the taxpayers will make mistakes in discharging their obligations.’

This leads to overpayment of tax credits or underpayment of tax, and expensive compliance activity later on, the group argued.

Robin Williamson, LITRG’s Technical Director, told Tax Journal that HMRC are supporting the Revenuebenefits website partly through secondment and partly through grant-in-aid funding. The overall package represents ‘excellent value for money for the taxpayer’, he said.