Setting the Standard: the RIFT code of conduct

RIFT’s internal code of practice is about setting a bar for the whole tax industry to reach for. We’re building a framework of ethics and education, and the tax world is watching. The RIFT code is about taking responsibility and setting examples. Naturally, a lot of it involves understanding the laws that apply to you and to us - but there’s so much more to it than that. The code ensures that all our dealings with clients, HMRC and others are handled professionally, responsibly and in full compliance with the regulations. It also evolves continually to keep pace with changes in the legislation and industry.

From HMRC’s point of view, our code is how we show that we always work within the ever-changing tax laws and dealing fairly with both them and our clients. From your perspective, the code demonstrates our commitment to confidentiality, integrity and expertise. It protects more than just your money, although that’s certainly a big part of it. It also protects the whole idea of tax refunds. It preserves both the legal and the ethical sides of our service, and gives both clients and HMRC confidence in the work we do.

The RIFT code means that:

  • We will always be honest and straightforward in our business and professional affairs.
  • We will never try to mislead you or HMRC.
  • We will never act outside the law for any reason, or work with anyone we believe might be doing so.
  • We will always maintain the highest professional. ethical and technical standards of work. No one will ever be assigned to a task that they’re not qualified for, and all necessary advice and assistance will always be provided to make sure it’s done properly.
  • We will never allow bias, conflicts of interest or outside influence to affect our work or professional judgement.
  • We will keep our professional expertise and skills at the highest levels, always ensuring that we're providing the best possible service. This includes staying at the forefront of developments and standards in practice, legislation and procedures.
  • We will unfailingly maintain the confidentiality of the information we gather and handle. We will never pass information on without the proper authority, and will uphold all the laws that apply to its use.
RIFT Customer Charter

RIFT Personal Tax Specialists are qualified tax professionals

You’re in safe hands with RIFT. It takes expertise and training to do what we do. Our teams are built from fully qualified accountants, qualified tax practitioners and expert claims handlers with a detailed understanding of the industries in which they specialise.

We take great pride in our teams, and put them through their paces with comprehensive internal training. We make sure they put it to good use, too. We’ve got over 160 people working at RIFT, with front-line staff available 6 days a week online or by phone. That means you’ll always have the help, advice and guidance you need at every step in your tax refund claim.

What does it take to be a RIFT Personal Tax Specialist?

Our Personal Tax Specialists rank with the best in the business. It takes up to a year of intensive training before our new staff start working on refund claims.

We put our people through the rigorous training needed to achieve the appropriate professional qualifications for their role. This includes qualifications from ATT (Association of Tax Technicians), AAT (Associations of Accounting Technicians), and ACCA (The Association of Chartered Accountants). Once a person has passed their professional exams they become a member of the relevant professional association and are bound by all of its rules, regulations, ethics and codes of conduct in addition to our internal standards.

In addition to the days our staff spend in regular training with visiting tutors in the RIFT offices they have to travel to offsite sessions, workshops and lectures, participate in online training and also display intense dedication by spending a lot of their own time studying and revising. Passing these exams means that they become members of the professional bodies that run them - binding them by all their ethics, rules and codes of conduct on top of our own.

Training doesn’t stop once our staff have their first qualifications, either. HMRC rules and regulations, industry practices and government legislation are changing all the time. Our personal tax specialists and aftercare teams all receive continuous, regular training to make sure they have the most up to date information, expertise and legal rulings to always keep you on the right side of the tax laws and ensuring we always maximise your refund claim.

All of these factors add up to RIFT having the best qualified staff in the tax industry. No other company puts as much effort into training, or insists on our levels of expertise and professionalism.

RIFT's comprehensive tax review service: refunds done right

Making a fully comprehensive tax refund claim the right way is about much more than filling in a few basic forms. While other companies do little more than take down your information and send it to HMRC, the RIFT service goes a lot further and does so much more.

Our specialists have detailed expertise in tax refund law (ITEPA 2003 Sections 336/339) and a great relationship with HMRC. That means we have the technical understanding to keep you on the right side of the legislation, and make sure you get the most from your tax refund claims. Every claim we submit for you is guaranteed to be accurate and completely within the rules. With RIFT on your team, you know you’ll never pay more tax than you owe, and that you’re entitled to every penny you receive.

What’s more, we take the all-important extra care to factor all your relevant circumstances into your claim calculation. That means all the other expenses and reimbursements you have that can impact the amount you’re owed. It takes time and specialist knowledge to be this thorough, but it’s the key to getting your refunds right.

The RIFT Guarantee protects your refund

At RIFT, we always stand behind the work we do. Once we’ve calculated your refund amount, the total we give you is what you’ll receive. The RIFT Guarantee means that, even if HMRC launches an enquiry, your refund stays safe. As long as the information you’ve given us is accurate, if they ever demanded some of your refund back we’d pay it ourselves.

Every year, HMRC launches a number of enquiries into tax refund claims. Sometimes, all they need is some more information. Sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw with a random spot check. Occasionally, they raise concerns about the refund itself. Understandably, this can be worrying when it happens. HMRC has a full year to challenge tax refund claims. Despite this, fewer than 3% of the claims RIFT handles are ever queried. When it does happen, we always fight for our clients - and successfully defend 99.6% of all HMRC challenges. All we ask is that you be open and honest with us about your income, expenses and tax affairs, and the RIFT Guarantee protects you. In 2016, that meant safeguarding £1.4 million of our clients’ refund cash from HMRC enquiries.

RIFT and regulation in the tax industry

Ideally, RIFT would welcome the introduction of official regulations covering the way companies offer tax-related services. There are some unscrupulous companies in the business, and they need to be stopped from harming clients and the industry as a whole. When choosing a company to look after your tax affairs, it can be hard to know who to trust. Even honest, inexperienced agents can put their clients at risk, and solid regulations could go a long way toward limiting the damage they cause.

RIFT leads by example as the UK’s foremost tax specialist. We never make a claim for anything our clients aren’t entitled to, and have a long-established, hard-won reputation for our principles, diligence and dedication. The RIFT Guarantee shows that we stand behind our work, and always fight to protect our clients. In short, when we tell you that you’re owed a tax refund, you can take it to the bank.

Until official regulation is put into place for the industry we have developed our own standards and code of conduct and promise that we will abide by them.

Our relationship with HMRC

HMRC is not the enemy. They will never try to deliberately cheat you by deliberately taking too much tax from you. However they do not know the value of individuals’ work related expenses so refunds are not automatic. If you don’t ask for your money, you won’t get it. HMRC will always answer your questions, but you need to know the right questions to ask and how to get back everything you are entitled to. We make a commitment to you that we will always question everything and hold HRMC to account so that we can maximise your refund.

That’s why our relationship with HMRC is so central to the work we do. RIFT is in constant communication with HMRC and their cooperation means we can give the best possible service to you. In fact, we’ve often invited them into our offices to check our records and processes and to see all we’re doing to support our clients. We’re also in regular contact with their Agent Compliance Teams, whose job it is to ensure that you’re dealt with completely honestly.

Working with HMRC, not against them

RIFT is proud of the work we do, and our relationship with HMRC is at the heart of that. That’s why we’re completely in favour of more formal regulation in the tax industry. Our own code of conduct is the result of years of exploring the idea of industry-wide voluntary regulation. We believe that an agreed common code of conduct would be a huge step toward keeping clients safe and their tax advisors honest. Until enough other companies get behind the idea, though, RIFT is proud to lead by example.

Working closely with HMRC also gives RIFT more ways to look out for you. We study their plans and proposals and give feedback on how to improve what they’re doing, always as the champion of the “man in the street”. For example, we’re taking a lot of steps to ensure that HMRC’s Making Tax Digital programme runs smoothly. We also take the time to study and respond to their consultation documents on behalf of customers, employers, and partners as well from our own perspective as agents. Of course, keeping our finger on HMRC’s pulse means we need dedicated specialists staying up-to-date at all times. Tax law changes a lot, but keeping actively involved lets RIFT remain at the cutting edge at all times.

The RIFT approach: honesty, accuracy, openness

The core values of RIFT demand the highest levels of conduct, whether we’re dealing with clients or HMRC. That starts with being honest and open about your situation and the options available to you.

One question we’re occasionally asked is whether our clients could be handling their taxes on their own. This is a point we’re always very careful to be clear and open about. Tax refunds can be claimed on your own behalf, without professional guidance or help. It’s a tricky and complicated area of law, but if you know what you’re doing it’s possible to keep yourself safe. RIFT’s job is to help people who aren’t experts in tax law, or who aren’t confident that they can get back everything they’re owed without running into trouble.

Our services are designed to save time and stress, eliminate risk and maximise the rewards. For example, right now HMRC offers no easy way for people to tackle things like work travel expenses on their own. Without a detailed understanding of the tax return rules and processes, it’s all too easy to run into problems in these areas potentially under-claiming, or worse over-claiming, and to have no one with the experience to fight your case if you should need it.

Employers matter, too

Educating and helping employers is an essential part of keeping both them and their workers safe. RIFT keeps “boots on the ground” at all times, making sure employers understand their responsibilities and the rewards they bring. Sometimes, that means ensuring that people’s employment status is being reported correctly. Sometimes it’s about checking that the Construction Industry Scheme rules are being followed. At all times, it involves keeping a close eye on the direction of the UK economy and the changing markets employers are facing.

We have partnerships with many of the largest unions, industry bodies and trade associations across the UK so we are able to make sure that we have an in-depth understanding of any pressures or issues faced by their members and can do all we can to make a difference where it matters.

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