“We are delighted to be part of this innovative pilot project which enables our men to address tax issues whilst in custody. This positively impacts upon residents when they return to society and we believe this also reduces their risk of re-offending”
“I wish that there had been someone like RIFT to support me with my tax affairs when I first came into prison”
“We recognised that there was a gap in provision for the men who had tax issues and we are delighted that RIFT have been able to plug that gap during a pilot period”
“Arriving at Prison is a stressful experience, and it is all too easy to lose sight of the important things that continue to need your attention on the outside. One such matter is that of your affairs with HMRC, especially if you are self-employed or a director of a limited company.
On my arrival at HMP (anonymised), information was collected from me by one of the charity workers and passed to HMRC so that they were aware I was in custody. This was purely so that they could continue to communicate with me effectively and not to elicit a ‘pause’ of my affairs; a common misconception among inmates it transpired.
It was important to me that I proactively settled my affairs, as it was clear that failing to do so would result in significant fines, as the HMRC process does not allow for or accommodate any kind of relief when in custody. I am lucky enough to have someone on the outside whom can get access to my records which enabled me to complete my return. It would have been almost impossible for me to comply with my obligations to HMRC were it not for their help, and I can understand why so many of the men I meet bury their heads in the sand.
The reality is that HMRC will not go away, and if matters are not dealt with now, then they will surely be waiting for release day! My main concern was that they would seek to instigate proceedings for non-compliance once I was released, and this could potentially result in my being subject to recall for a breach of licence. Whilst an extreme outcome, it is nonetheless possible and I would strongly advise everyone to think carefully about it.
I look back now and can see that having someone with whom I could speak to whilst in custody, in confidence and who would be in my corner so to speak, would have been an invaluable help.”
One to One advice sessions with prisoners and those on licence or community orders who have either been in employment prior to prison (PAYE) and are therefore eligible to a refund of overpayment of tax, or those that were self-employed or CIS prior to prison and did not complete their self-assessment tax return on time and are therefore potentially accruing penalties.
A significant number of people have not completed their self-assessment tax return because either:
- they didn’t think they had to as they were in prison
- they haven’t received any correspondence from HMRC informing them of such – this is because HMRC are not told that they are in prison.
A late submission of a tax return results in an immediate fine then an ongoing accrual of daily fines to the tune of £1600 per year. If men are released from prison without having addressed these fines, they are liable to prosecution and possible recall.
These advice sessions also cover men who were in the military or working under CIS and who are potentially entitled to a multitude of tax refunds due to their travel to and from home whilst working at a temporary base, meal allowances, overnight stays etc.
A one day course offering specific advice including the nuts and bolts of becoming self-employed, including topics such as: cash-flow; profit margins; insurance; VAT etc. This course will equip participants with the knowledge and understanding of the opportunities and potential risks pertaining to becoming self-employed or operating as a sole trader and running a business.
Developed in collaboration with Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) this 3 day course focuses on developing the skills, attributes and resilience required for self-employment and includes the provision of dedicated support form a RIFT caseworker after the course has ended.
Everyone who attends one of these courses will receive three months’ support from a RIFT tax specialist on release and we will also pay for them to be registered with HMRC as self-employed.
Q&A with Jan Post
RIFT Chairperson Jan Post on RIFT Social Enterprise