A rather remarkable story was posted to HMRC’s website on 12 November. The context for the announcement was HMRC’s wish to be part of the Talk Money Week that ran from 12-18 November.
The event was organised by Financial Capability. Their website is for employers, charities, financial services companies, researchers, schools, local authorities, parents and anyone looking to help people manage their money. The Money Advice Service is the anchor organisation for the Financial Capability Strategy for the UK. They are an independent service, set up by government that works in partnership with other organisations to help people make the most of their money.
HMRC were keen not to be left out. For an organisation whose remit is to maximise the recovery of income and gains in the form of taxation, HMRC’s largesse in an attempt to be part of the story: helping folk to manage their money, is frankly, rather out of character.
What they actually posted to their website was a reminder of a number or reliefs and opportunities that taxpayers can avail themselves to improve their financial situation.
The topics covered were:
- Claiming the Marriage Allowance
- The Help to Save Scheme
- Tax-free childcare support
- Making a claim for work-related expenses, and
- The First-time buyers stamp duty reliefs.
Realistically, these reliefs and schemes are small beer when compared to tax benefits offered to say pension savers. For example, the Marriage Allowance only works to save tax if one partner is a basic rate taxpayer and the other earns less than the personal tax allowance. For those able to claim this is worth less than £5 a week, and the Help to Save Scheme is only available to those in work and also in receipt of Working Tax Credits or Universal Credit. To win the maximum bonus savers would need to put by £50 a month. How is this possible if you can’t manage on what you earn and have to apply for tax credits or benefits?
Nevertheless, we await more from HMRC in this vein. Who knows, maybe at some future date they will be linking taxpayers personal tax accounts to the reliefs to which they are entitled without the need for a formal claim for relief.