“Tax rebate” is searched over 40,000 times a month. Why? Because there is a lack of clarity over what can be claimed, by who in which industries, and most importantly, how. A bit like PPI there’s always a company online who can do it for you… but at what cost?
There is a tax rebate available for most industries and individuals, and it often takes an accountant to explain what one is eligible for. From marriage allowance to tax relief on uniforms, there’s a rebate company for just about everything.
One of note, due to the pandemic, is the Work From Home tax rebate as this is worth up to £125 a year, with nearly five million people applying since March 2020.
For those that don’t have an accountant or perhaps speak to their accountant, the internet is the resource for most people. This unfortunately can be the first step to falling prey to online scammers. Taxpayers who use third-party firms have repeatedly complained they were unaware they would lose huge sums to fees.
Where it begins
We entered the phrase “HM Revenue & Custom’s” (HMRC) and you’d be surprised to hear that official gov.co.uk website did not top the search results.
Instead, tax refund and/or communication firms for HMRC beat the real taxman because they have paid Google to appear there.
Taxpayers can be left with less than half of their payouts once tax rebate firms take their fees. The charges, usually based on a percentage of the refund, start at around 25 per cent and some go up to 48 per cent. But you are unlikely to find those charges clearly visible on their sites for – obvious reasons.
With the appeal of someone else doing the leg work for you, it’s all too easy to click the wrong link! But again, this is where the lack of common knowledge comes in on how to claim tax rebates.
HMRC is aware of companies that send emails or texts advertising their services. They offer to apply to HMRC for a tax rebate on your behalf, usually for a fee. These companies are not connected with HMRC in any way.
It’s that time of year – Self-assessment tax – it may perhaps be described as a honey pot for scammers. Every year it triggers a surge in scammers trying to trick those who file Self-Assessment tax returns each year into handing over their information – or worse, their cash.
These scams often surround 3 common topics:
- tax rebates
- personal or payment information
Common Phishing Scams
Simple: HMRC never contacts customers who are due a refund by email or text. It only ever sends such a letter by post.
HMRC will never ask for personal or financial information when they send text messages.
Do not reply if you get a text message claiming to be from HMRC offering you a tax refund in exchange for personal or financial details. Do not open any links in the message.
Similarly, it’s worth knowing that HMRC never contacts taxpayers about refunds by telephone, and never uses external companies regarding refunds.
Basically, if it doesn’t come in the post from HMRC, it’s fake. End of story.
With this in mind, it’s worth making sure the taxman has your correct postal address.
If you do get an email like this, you should send it to HMRC for investigation before deleting it.
And if you have reason to believe you have been the victim of an email scam, report the issue to your bank/card issuer as soon as possible.
The image below shows an example of a scam email with a hyperlink which directs you to a phishing website.
For more information on Tax Rebate, refunds, and/or suspicious communications, speak to the Robinsons Team.