Finance: Taxation charity lands Customs training grant

A charity that gives free tax advice is to offer training to voluntary sector organisations to help them improve their services to low-income beneficiaries.

TaxAid, which gives guidance to those who cannot afford professional tax advisers, has been awarded £40,000 by HM Revenue & Customs to fund the training. The charity would like to hear from third sector organisations, mainly in the north and the Midlands, who work with clients whose primary problems might have tax or tax-debt repercussions.

Voluntary organisations working in the field will be able to send representatives to one-day conferences that are being held in Newcastle, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Birmingham and Manchester between October 2006 and March 2007.

HMRC's grant has come out of the department's new £1m annual budget for 'customer focus and capacity building' in the third sector.

Rosina Pullman, director of TaxAid, said: "This is a unique opportunity for us to help the front-line advisers get it right in terms of knowing how best to deal with people who have tax problems."

Pullman added that it can be difficult for voluntary sector organisations to know which specific department within HMRC to direct their beneficiaries to. "HMRC is keen to see that the sector refers low-income clients appropriately," she said.

The HMRC said one of its priorities this year was to provide "education, advice and support" for people with tax-related debt.

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