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Where Taxpayers and Advisers Meet
More tax, tax credits and benefits pointers
15/01/2011, by Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, Tax Articles - General
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Think January, think self assessment deadlines. But there are some other important tax points to consider, as well as for tax credits and benefits. LITRG gives a reminder.

Introduction

Self assessment taxpayers will be familiar with 31 January as a key deadline. We have covered those issues in a separate article, but there are some other points to take note of this month which we set out below.

1. Employee tax queries – new single HMRC telephone line

There is now just one telephone number for all employees to call HMRC for help with their tax enquiries – 0845 300 0627 (textphone 0845 302 1408). So if, for example, you have a query about your PAYE notice of coding or have received a PAYE tax calculation, this is the number to use. 

Although HMRC have advised us that only the new number has been quoted on recent correspondence, you will need to note the change if you pick up old HMRC letters or coding notices as we understand that the old numbers will be switched off.

2. Disabled or aged 60+? Make sure you get VAT relief where it is due

The standard rate of VAT increased from 4 January 2011 from 17.5% to 20%. This means it will be even more important for disabled people and those aged 60 or over to make sure they are getting the benefit of VAT reductions available to them for certain things. Guidance is available on the LITRG website so make sure to check if you qualify.

3. Tax credits: confirm previously estimated 2009/10 income by 31 January 2011

The deadline for renewing a tax credit claim is 31 July following the end of the tax year.

If you were not able to report your actual 2009/10 income by 31 July 2010 – for example, if you were self-employed and your accounts were not yet ready – but you nonetheless returned an estimate of your income, then you have until 31 January 2011 to confirm that estimate, or to report the actual income figures. If you do neither, HMRC will use the estimated income as your actual income figure for 2009/10. If this is wrong, your claim may be finalised incorrectly which could lead to overpayments and penalties.

4. Tax credits: get your claim reinstated by 31 January 2011 where you had ‘good cause’ for missing the first renewal deadline of 31 July 2010

If you did not renew your tax credits claim by 31 July 2010, but had ‘good cause’ for not doing so, you have until 31 January to return your renewal papers (or renew by telephone) and have your claim reinstated from 6 April 2010.

‘Good cause’, according to HMRC, includes a serious illness such as coma, heart attack, stroke or serious mental or life-threatening illness; serious illness of a close relative for whom the claimant is caring; bereavement of a close relative or partner; or some other ‘exceptional reason’.

5. Benefits: Cold weather payments

Certain benefits claimants will have received extra cold weather payments again this winter. They are tax-free, so make sure you don’t include them on your tax return.

Useful links

Guidance for PAYE taxpayers who have received a P800 tax calculation
 
Information about cold weather payments on the LITRG website

About The Author

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) is an initiative of the Chartered Institute of Taxation to give a voice to those who cannot afford to pay for tax advice. LITRG comprises tax specialists from professional practice and the voluntary sector, from publishing and from HM Revenue & Customs, together with people from a welfare benefits and social policy background. Visit www.litrg.org.uk for further information.
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