Opinion Former Article

Support for taxpayers on low incomes more vital than ever, says new LITRG Chair

The need for a strong voice for unrepresented taxpayers, and accessible guidance to help them comply with their tax obligations, has never been greater, the new chair of the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) has said.

Jonathan Riley takes over from Anne Fairpo, who steps down from the role she has held since May 2017.

New LITRG Chair Jonathan Riley said:

“It is an honour to take over as Chair of LITRG and to be working with our fantastic team of staff and volunteers to help unrepresented taxpayers. The group’s work producing guidance for those who cannot otherwise access quality tax advice, and advocating for those who so often struggle to navigate our labyrinthine tax system, is more vital than ever.

“I would like to thank Anne Fairpo for her dedicated and thoughtful leadership of LITRG these past two years. In particular she has played a central role in our effort to get HMRC to urgently assess and make public how it intends to support the digitally assisted population.”

Jonathan becomes Chair of LITRG as the group prioritises improving still further the quantity, quality and marketing of its in demand websites, which reached nearly five million visitors last year. Jonathan explained:

“The growth and popularity of LITRG’s online guidance over recent years has been phenomenal.

“It is vital that we continue to publish accurate and detailed content on our website, not least because of the lack of depth of guidance on the Government’s website Gov.UK. HMRC rightly expect taxpayers to comply with their obligations, but they can only do so if they understand what is required of them and how the system works. The guidance available on Gov.uk currently falls short of providing the support needed. It is vital to people on low incomes that we remain one of the most comprehensive free sources of tax information on the web.”

The other main strand of LITRG’s work is its advocacy on behalf of taxpayers on low incomes. Jonathan said:

“LITRG is a formidable voice for the unrepresented taxpayer and a critical but constructive partner of government and the tax authorities. This work will continue and the group will be setting out its priorities in a new paper this autumn.

“One priority will be campaigning to ensure taxpayers have a clear, efficient process to query and correct inaccurate information held about them by government departments and encourage the government to consider interactions with benefits when developing tax policy.

“Additionally we will be continuing our push for a resolution to the unfairness for low earners who are in net-pay arrangement pension schemes rather than relief at source schemes. It is wrong that the vagaries of unrelated employer choices over pension schemes are arbitrarily denying tax relief to some of the lowest earners, undermining some of the benefits of auto-enrolment.”
Notes for editors

1. Jonathan Riley is a member of Grant Thornton UK LLP’s Strategic Leadership Team, with overall responsibility for Quality & Risk in the firm. He was previously Head of Tax at Grant Thornton and prior to that Senior Partner overseeing operations throughout Yorkshire and the North East of England. He started his career as an Inspector of Taxes at HMRC, followed by a two-year secondment to the Department of Trade and Industry as tax policy adviser. He joined Grant Thornton in 1996.

Jonathan has been Vice-Chair of LITRG since May 2018.

2. Low Incomes Tax Reform Group

The LITRG is an initiative of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) to give a voice to the unrepresented. Since 1998 LITRG has been working to improve the policy and processes of the tax, tax credits and associated welfare systems for the benefit of those on low incomes.

The CIOT is the leading professional body in the United Kingdom concerned solely with taxation. The CIOT is an educational charity, promoting education and study of the administration and practice of taxation. One of our key aims is to work for a better, more efficient, tax system for all affected by it – taxpayers, their advisers and the authorities. The CIOT’s work covers all aspects of taxation, including direct and indirect taxes and duties. The CIOT’s 18,000 members have the practising title of ‘Chartered Tax Adviser’ and the designatory letters ‘CTA’, to represent the leading tax qualification.

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