Have you considered how you might be affected by the recent HMRC worker strike? Perhaps you’re confused by all the hype and conflicting details you’ve heard in wake of the recent conflict, or just want to keep a check on all relevant information.
Here, you can find everything you need about the strike, including how it might be affecting you and what you should do next.
What is the HMRC Strike All About?
Last week, a worker strike was called by the Public Commercial Services union (PCS) on behalf of all workers within the public sector – including those that work for the HMRC,
The strike was scheduled to begin on Wednesday July 30, and continued to spread across all areas of the UK over Thursday 31 and Friday 1 August.
According to news reports, reasons for the strike include a number of welfare-related issues, such as:[unordered_list style=”red-x”]
- Years of job cuts within the HMRC offices, including 281 call centres
- Overworked employees as a result of the job cuts
- ‘Overwhelming incentives’ imposed on employees, which have added to the stress and exhaustion of working in an understaffed environment
- Gaps in the tax system and a lack of policing regarding tax avoidance and tax fraud. This again is down to the current low staff levels within HMRC offices across the country.[/unordered_list]
In addition, PCS stated that:
- 90% of tax is effectively paid voluntarily, with so few staff around to check suspect cases
- HMRC workers are often driven to writing off cases simply to get through their never-ending workload
- Every day, thousands of letters to the HMRC go unanswered
- Thousands of frustrated customers are left waiting on the ends of phone lines due to the closure of numerous frontline offices.
How the Strike Affects You
The strike was timed to coincide with the HMRC deadline for both self assessment tax returns and tax credit renewal forms – initially Thursday July 31.
These means that those needing to report a change in their circumstance when filing for tax credits, or to file their own tax return (in the case of self-employed people), were at risk of their applications being delayed.
However, the HMRC decided to extend this deadline to Wednesday Aug 6, giving claimants an extra week to get their forms
in on time and avoid disruption to tax credit payments.
What are Tax Credits?
Tax credits are paid to people with certain circumstances that make them exempt from paying the full expected rate of tax. This could involve being responsible for children; disabled workers, and workers on low incomes.
If you are responsible for one or more children, you may be eligible to receive child tax credits.
If you are a disabled worker or on a low income, you may be eligible to receive working tax credits.
It is possible to claim both child tax credits and working tax credits at the same time if your circumstances apply.[/box] [box]
What is Self Assessment?
Self assessment is the completion of you own tax return each year. It applies to those who are self-employed, run their own business, or otherwise do not regular pay income tax each month.
When you apply for self-assessment, you agree to show your income and capital gains (profits) for that tax year so that you may pay the right amount of tax you owe. Self assessment can usually be filed online or via post.
If you are not sure whether you qualify for self assessment, visit the HMRC website or call the Self assessment helpline. [/box]
What To Do Next
If you have been claiming tax credits and your circumstances have not changed, you will not need to do anything. Your tax credits will be processed automatically as normal.
If any of your circumstances have changed (such as address; income; living situation etc) or you are applying for tax credits for the first time, you will need to file your tax credit or tax credit renewal form as soon as possible. This also applies if you are filing for self assessment.
Don’t leave it to the last minute – the current deadline is Wednesday August 6 and missing the deadline may lead to disruptions in your payments.
Bear in mind that HMRC phone lines will be busy at this current time and may lead to long waits on the phone. To alleviate this, the HMRC is allowing tax credit renewals to be completed online for the first time. It is strongly suggested you renew online if possible to avoid delays to your payments.
Ways to Register for Tax Credits/Self Assessment[highlight][Remember: this only applies if you are a new tax credit applicant, or if your circumstances have changed. If you have applied before and your circumstances are the same, the following will not apply to you.][/highlight]
Firstly, check your tax credits renewal pack. This will let you know how you need to file for renewal, based on your personal circumstances. If you have not received your pack by now, call the Tax Credits helpline.
You can register for self assessment or renew your tax credits by one of the following ways:[unordered_list style=”tick”]
- Online, at taxcredits.HMRC.gov.uk. You will be asked to first complete a Tax Credits Calculator to work out how much you will be entitled to.
If you are eligible to renew online, your renewal pack will bear the code TC 603 R (annual review) or TC 603 D (annual declaration).
- Via post, by returning your tax credit renewal pack to:HM Revenue and Customs Tax Credits
After you have renewed, you will receive an award notice from the Tax Office within 8 weeks of sending your renewal. This will let you know how much tax credits you will get.