November 19, 2009
If you have a tax problem and you are an employee, you may be able to get help about a tax code or PAYE from your employer.
There are a number of websites that can help with tax problems:
- The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group website has useful information for people on a low income. Go to: www.litrg.org.uk
- HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is the Government department responsible for tax. Its website contains a lot of useful information. Go to: www.hmrc.gov.uk
- The Directgov website also has a lot of useful tax information. Go to www.direct.gov.uk
- Businesslink is the Government website for businesses. It includes information about tax. Go to: www.businesslink.gov.uk
Contacting your tax office
If the problem cannot be sorted out by talking to your employer, or looking on a website, the next step is to contact your tax office. Tax offices only deal with telephone and written enquiries and are not open to the public. If you need to see someone face-to-face, you will need to go to a Tax Enquiry Centre.
If you are employed, your tax office is the one that deals with your employer. It may be some distance from where you work. If you know your employer’s tax reference number, you can use it to find the telephone number of the correct tax office. Go to the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) website at www.hmrc.gov.uk. If you do not know the tax reference number, your employer must give it to you if you ask for it. Or look on your payslip, P45 or P60.
If you are self-employed, or not in employment, your tax office depends on where you live. Look for the contact details on any letters or forms that you have received from HMRC. Alternatively, you will find a tax office locator at: www.hmrc.gov.uk.
When you contact the tax office, you must be ready to quote your national insurance number and your employer’s tax reference number.
Going to a Tax Enquiry Centre
You can speak to someone face-to-face at a Tax Enquiry Centre. Most Tax Enquiry Centres are accessible for disabled people and can provide induction loops, magnifiers to help you read the forms and crystal listening devices to help you if you are hard of hearing. If you need a sign language interpreter, or other interpretation services, these can be arranged.
You can find out where your nearest Tax Enquiry Centre is on the HM Revenue and Customs website at: www.hmrc.gov.uk.
To make an appointment to see an adviser at a Tax Enquiry Centre, phone one of the HM Revenue and Customs helplines. Which helpline depends on what your enquiry is about. For a list of helplines, go to the HM Revenue and Customs website at: www.hmrc.gov.uk.
If your problem has still not been sorted out, you may wish to challenge it, or negotiate, with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) The procedure to follow and the correct office depend on the type of challenge or dispute.
Some of the main procedures are:
- appealing, for example, against a calculation of tax liability or a PAYE code A factsheet about appealing against a decision of HMRC is available on the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk.
- seeking a waiver, because of HM Revenue and Customs delays
- negotiating tax debts
- complaining about HM Revenue and Customs conduct.
When dealing with any query or negotiation, whether in writing, over the phone or in person, remember the following tips:
- prepare in advance
- make a note of the relevant facts
- collect all available evidence
- have a clear idea of what outcome you want
- make a record of who you speak to and what is said
- try to stay calm
- say thank you if your contact was helpful and mention any helpful advice you get in any letters you write
- be persistent
- ask about any appeal process.
For more information about how to challenge or negotiate with HM Revenue and Customs, you should see an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB.
If you are not satisfied by the outcome or your complaint or negotiation, you may want to take matters further by complaining to the Adjudicator or Ombudsman.
You might also want to consult with a tax charity or specialist tax adviser before you do this.
The Adjudicator’s Office
The Adjudicator’s Office considers complaints of maladministration by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), for example:
- excessive delay
The Adjudicator’s Office will not consider:
- legal disputes
- complaints that have already been investigated by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman – see below
- appeals against property valuations, including appeals against council tax bandings. These should be referred to Valuation Tribunals
- matters relating to a criminal prosecution during the course of legal proceedings.
A complaint should not usually be referred to the Adjudicator’s Office until you have given HMRC a chance to remedy matters. However, in urgent cases, the Adjudicator’s Office may offer immediate help without you approaching HMRC first, for example, if there is a risk that any delay might cause irreparable damage. If you do contact the Adjudicator’s Office directly, you will be guided through the necessary procedures.
The contact details of the Adjudicator’s Office are:
286 Euston Road
Tel: 0300 057 1111 or 020 7667 1832
Fax: 0300 057 1212 or 020 7667 1830
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman may be able to help with complaints against HM Revenue and Customs if, for example, there has been:
- avoidable delay
- failure to give appropriate advice
- failure to follow proper procedures.
The Ombudsman cannot investigate complaints about government policy or about tax legislation.
If you want to complain to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, you must first contact Mark and ask for the matter to be referred.