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National Insurance numbers
HMRC has issued a tweet to remind people how to find a lost National Insurance number. Anyone who has lost or forgotten their National Insurance number should first try and locate the number on paperwork such as their tax return, payslip or P60. If the National Insurance number still cannot be located a request can be submitted to HMRC using form CA5403. The completed form needs to be mailed to HMRC.
Alternatively, it is also possible to phone the National Insurance numbers' helpline to request details of the number. However, HMRC will not disclose the number over the telephone and will instead send the details by post. HMRC automatically sends a letter to teenagers just before their 16th birthday detailing their National Insurance number. These letters should be kept in a safe place.
HMRC is unable to assist with requests for new National Insurance numbers which should be requested from the JobCentre Plus - National Insurance number allocation service. An individual must have the right to work or study in the UK in order to apply for a National Insurance number.
Tax advice for those on low incomes
A new campaign has been launched to raise an extra £250,000 a year for charities that provide tax advice for those in need who cannot afford to pay for it.
The new 'Bridge the Gap' campaign is intended to help charities including TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People that provide tax advice to vulnerable people and were founded by members of the taxation profession. TaxAid helps resolve tax problems for people on low incomes irrespective of their background and circumstances. The advice provided is free, independent and confidential. Tax Help for Older People provides free, independent and expert advice and help for older people on lower incomes. The charity deals with some 12,000 new clients each year with their tax problems, delivering about 22,000 individual tax advice sessions.
The initiative is being supported by a number of bodies including the CIOT, ATT, ICAEW and ACCA. The Bridge the Gap campaign hopes to raise enough money to enable the charities to help an extra 6,000 vulnerable people who critically need tax advice but can’t afford to pay for it. This includes help specifically for those that are bereaved, homeless, mentally ill, aged or illiterate.
HMRC penalty regime review
Earlier this year, HMRC published a consultation that examined various options for strengthening the effectiveness of its penalties' regime. The consultation looked at adopting a more personalised approach for dealing with penalties as well as looking to harness technological developments to boost taxpayer compliance.
The consultation was open for comment until 11 May 2015. The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has published their response to HMRC’s consultation. The CIOT’s view is that HMRC is right to start at a high level with this consultation document by asking fundamental questions about how the penalty regime should work before exploring specific proposals. The CIOT broadly agrees that HMRC should use its increasing digital resources to promote compliance, by adopting a more personalised approach (with proper use of mitigation and suspension).
The principle of a single penalty system that covered all taxes was also welcomed. This would fit well with the development of HMRC’s single tax account covering all taxes. The CIOT also stressed the importance of simplifying the tax system so that taxpayers can better understand their obligations and how to comply with them.
Many of the current penalties are disproportionately expensive for those with lower earnings. For example, a £100 penalty for late filing of a Self Assessment return is of no real consequence to someone earning £150,000 per year but a significant amount to someone earning £15,000 per year.