11/06/2020

Tax Credit And Universal Credit Claims

SCHEDULE OF SERVICES

This schedule should be read in conjunction with the engagement letter and the standard terms and conditions. Where an official form is mentioned to which there is an equivalent online process, references to the form are deemed to include that equivalent online process.

Tax credit AND UNIVERSAL CREDIT CLAIMS

Tax credits – recurring compliance work

  1. We will prepare your tax credit annual declaration from the information and explanations that you provide to us.  After obtaining written evidence of your approval and signature (where required), we will submit your completed forms to HMRC.
  • We will calculate your entitlement to tax credits and check your tax credit award notices and annual review on the basis of the information and explanations you provide to us. We will advise you of any errors or omissions on the face of these documents and agree what action should be taken to inform HMRC and the deadlines for such action. 
  • [We will inform HMRC on your behalf of any changes of circumstances during the year for which notification is mandatory (which generally must be done within one month of the change). We will advise you of such circumstances [insert details of when client will be advised, eg on becoming a client and annually thereafter and when the regulations change]/ [We will provide a checklist of such circumstances]/ [ We will advise you what impact these changes will have on your tax credits award].
  • If instructed, we will deal with HMRC by the most appropriate means (telephone, post or online) on any aspect of your tax credits affairs.

Universal credit and transition from tax credits

  • When your tax credit claim ends, we will help you prepare and submit or check forms and other paperwork sent to you by HMRC in accordance with information you give us. After obtaining written evidence of your approval and signature (where necessary), we shall submit the form(s) to HMRC on your behalf.
  • [We shall advise you on your eligibility for universal credit, and, if instructed, assist with the preparation of your initial claim and, if appropriate, monthly income declaration (which may be subject to a separate agreement at our option).]
  • [If you tell us that you are in receipt of universal credit, we shall take account of your universal credit position in terms of your employed earnings when advising you on your PAYE affairs, or your self-employed earnings when advising you on the basis on which you will account to HMRC for tax on the profits of your self-employment.]
  • You remain responsible for notifying the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of any changes of income or circumstances that may affect your entitlement to universal credit, such as if you cease to fulfil the basic or financial conditions or become subject to any restrictions on entitlement. [We can provide you with a checklist.]

Advisory and ad hoc work

  • Where you have instructed us to do so, we will provide such other tax credits and universal credit ad hoc and advisory services as may be agreed between us from time to time. These services will be subject to the terms of this engagement letter and standard terms and conditions of business unless we decide to issue a separate engagement letter. An additional fee may be charged for these services.  Examples of such work include:
  • advising you of any possible claims or reliefs or other planning measures that may have a bearing on your tax credits or universal credit entitlement, including but not limited to gift aid, pension contributions and trading loss reliefs;
  • explaining to you what you must report to HMRC, including the time limits for doing so and what it would be in your interests to report (but is not obligatory);
  • assisting you with any tax credit examinations or enquiries raised by HMRC, or with any other communications with HMRC regarding your entitlement;
  • ensuring the data held by HMRC in respect of your employed income/earnings is correct and up-to-date, and that your universal credit award is based on the correct figures. We may require you to provide this information from your personal tax account;
  • explaining the interaction between HMRC’s and the DWP’s accounting rules (in particular HMRC’s simplified cash basis) and how they apply to you;
  • advising you on the DWP accounting basis on which monthly self-employed earnings are reported to that department for the purposes of your universal credit award;
  • assisting you in preparing for interviews with work coaches about whether your self-employment is ‘gainful’ as understood by the DWP;
  • advising you of the implications that any changes to your tax credit or universal credit award might have for other aspects of your tax affairs; and
  • [in general, when considering your tax affairs, advising you of the tax credit or universal credit implications of any proposed course of action.]

Changes in the law or practice or in public policy

  1. We will not accept responsibility if you act on advice given by us on an earlier occasion without first confirming with us that the advice is still valid in the light of any change in the law or practice or in public policy or your circumstances.
  1. We will accept no liability for losses arising from changes in the law or practice or in public policy that are first published after the date on which the advice is given.

Your responsibilities

  1. You are legally responsible for:
  • ensuring that that all documents and information submitted to HMRC and the DWP are correct, complete and on time; and
  • ensuring that HMRC and the DWP are informed promptly of any changes in your income or circumstances, or of any errors or omissions in any document sent to you by HMRC.

Failure to do this may lead to or exacerbate an overpayment, and may in certain cases give rise to penalties, and/or interest.

  1. Taxpayers who sign their claims, renewal and other forms cannot delegate this legal responsibility to others. You agree to check that documents that we have prepared for you are complete before you approve and sign them.
  1. Responsibilities in relation to joint claims are set out below under ‘You and your spouse/partner’ if applicable.
  1. [You will be responsible for informing HMRC of any changes of circumstances for which notification is mandatory (which generally must be done within one month of the change). If you are claiming universal credit you will be responsible for notifying the DWP if you no longer meet the basic conditions or financial conditions, if any other circumstances change or if you become subject to one of the restrictions on entitlement.]
  1. To enable us to carry out our work you agree:
  • that all claims and renewals and other reports made to the relevant department are to be made on the basis of full disclosure of your income and circumstances;
  • to provide full information necessary for dealing with your affairs: we will rely on the information and documents being true, correct and complete and will not audit the information or those documents;
  • to authorise us to approach such third parties as may be appropriate for information that we consider necessary to deal with your affairs; and
  • to provide us with information in sufficient time for any forms to be submitted (where we have agreed to submit them on your behalf). We may ask you to access details from your personal tax account and provide those details to us. 
  • [to provide us with information about changes of circumstance, which must be reported to HMRC as soon as possible and in any event within sufficient time for us to tell HMRC within one month of the change.]
  1. You will keep us informed of material changes in your circumstances that could affect your tax credit or universal credit entitlement. If you are unsure whether the change is material or not please let us know so that we can assess its significance. 
  1.  Where you wish us to deal with them you will forward to us HMRC notices and statements of account, DWP documents, letters and other communications received from either department in time to enable us to deal with them as may be necessary within the statutory time limits. It is essential that you let us have copies of any correspondence received because HMRC is not obliged to send us copies of communications issued to you and in most cases will not do so.  Agent authorisation with HMRC does not cover communications with the DWP. You should also keep a note of any telephone communication you have with HMRC’s tax credits helpline or any of DWP’s helplines, including the date and time of the call, and the name of the helpline operator(s). You should also maintain records of any face-to-face discussion you have with any Jobcentre official.

[You and your spouse/partner]

[For use where services are provided to a couple who are required to make a joint tax credits or universal credit claim – in which case the practitioner will need access to all relevant information about both partners.]

[Note also that joint claims must be made if the household is a polygamous unit – practitioners will need to adapt the wording if this applies to the client.]

  1. In most cases a couple must claim tax credits jointly. A ‘couple’ broadly comprises spouses or civil partners who are not separated in circumstances in which the separation is likely to be permanent, or two people living together as spouses or as if they were civil partners.

Note that members of a couple are jointly and severally liable to repay overpaid amounts of tax credit – in other words, HMRC can recover an overpayment from either partner or from both partners in equal or unequal proportions (although HMRC policy is to recover 50% (or some other percentage if agreed between the claimants) from each member of a former couple).

  • For universal credit, there are particular rules about when you are entitled to make a joint claim, and when one of you is entitled to make a single claim, about which we can advise you if you ask us.
  • Where we act for you as a couple in respect of a joint claim, we shall advise you and your spouse or civil partner or any person(s) with whom you are making a joint claim for tax credits or universal credit (your ‘partner’) on the basis that you are a household. You both agree that in all matters relating to your or your partner’s tax and financial affairs, we may deal directly with either of you and we may discuss with either of you the tax liabilities and/or financial affairs of the other, so far as they are relevant to your tax credits or universal credit entitlement. 
  • In order for us to act for you as a couple in respect of a joint claim, you undertake that all instructions, information or explanations either of you gives us will be on behalf of both of you, unless you specifically tell us otherwise. Similarly, if one of you signs a document, it will be on behalf of you both unless you instruct us to the contrary. If a conflict of interest should arise between you in relation to any matter to do with your joint claim or entitlement, we reserve the right to cease acting for both of you, or to advise one or other of you to obtain independent advice.
  • We will require your partner’s agreement to these arrangements and [would ask both of you to sign this schedule to confirm your approval].
  • You undertake to tell us if you cease to be a couple because this will terminate the joint claim.  You cease to be a couple for tax credits purposes if:
  • you were a married couple or civil partners and you have separated under a court order, or in circumstances in which the separation is likely to be permanent; or
  • you were living together as spouses, or as if you were civil partners, but no longer do so; or
  • one of you has gone overseas for longer than eight weeks even if you still regard yourselves as living together in the usual sense.

You cease to be a couple for universal credit purposes if:

  • you are a married couple or civil partners of each other and you cease to be members of the same household; or
  • you have been living together as spouses or as civil partners but have ceased to do so; or
  • one of you expects to be, or is, temporarily absent from the household for more than six months (even if you still regard yourselves as living together in the usual sense).

In addition, you should tell us if one of you goes overseas for longer than one month as that may affect your entitlement to universal credit.

  • HMRC or the DWP will need to be informed if the joint claim terminates, and we will also need to amend our terms of engagement accordingly. If you are unsure whether you have ceased to be a couple for tax credits purposes, please tell us so that we can assess the situation.
  • Our services as detailed above are subject to the limitations on our liability set out in the engagement letter and in paragraph 18 of our standard terms and conditions of business. These are important provisions, which you should read and consider carefully.