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HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) must do more to support disabled people to manage their tax affairs if the Government's drive to halve the disability employment gap is to succeed, say campaigners.
The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) said that disabled people might have more confidence in contacting the tax authority if they were made aware of concessions, such as the opportunity for those with hearing or speech impairments to use an online form rather than the telephone to request a face-to-face meeting with the Needs Extra Support service.
The group said that a more accessible HMRC is particularly important given that a number of disabled people who work will be on Employment Support Allowance, undertaking 'permitted' work, and may have tax coding problems.
It added that tax credits for disabled people are often difficult to manage without regular contact with HMRC to report changes of circumstances.
The tax campaigners have also called for greater co-operation between the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and HMRC regarding Access to Work funding, which is aimed at helping disabled people to create a successful business. They added that there is not enough customer information on employment tax considerations when the funding is used to buy the services of a support worker.
"It is a pity that some disabled people in work may still not always get the support they need from HMRC. Features such as telephone voice recognition software, the relentless drive to digital, and lack of technical information on GOV.UK can make their lives more difficult.
"HMRC must work harder to understand the barriers to engagement and ensure that disabled people's needs are catered for so nobody is left feeling disenfranchised, or worse, non–compliant," said Anthony Thomas, Chairman of LITRG.
LITRG also criticized HMRC's finding that were no "equality impacts" for disabled people from its Making Tax Digital (MTD) program.
It recommended that: all employed disabled people should be able to claim as an employment expense the costs of putting themselves, as far as possible, on par with non-disabled people; there should be value-added tax relief for modifications in the workplace; from April 2018, the system of national insurance contribution (NIC) credits should be extended to disabled people whose profits from self-employment do not exceed the small profits threshold; and HMRC should treat any 'strengthened self-employment' test in tax credit cases involving disabled people sympathetically, taking account of the fact there may be particular circumstances to consider.
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