MOD Tax Refunds: How to Dodge the Scams
22nd July 2019
MOD tax refunds can be tough to put together well. That’s why RIFT has its specialist teams with in-depth expertise in Armed Forces tax claims. The rules and regulations change all the time, as do your working conditions and the travel you’re doing, often internationally. You already do the toughest job on Earth, so it makes sense to call in a professional to make sure your refund claim is taken care of to the highest possible standard. That said, not every so-called “tax professional” is great at the job – and some may not even have your best interests at heart.
Who Do You Think You're Talking To?
When you’re looking for help with an MOD tax refund claim, a non-specialist can be almost as damaging as an outright scam artist. We see this a lot at RIFT, with Armed Forces customers coming to us after having their claims messed up elsewhere. Sometimes, they’re not even aware of how bad things have got, leaving them:
- Missing out on all the refund that they were entitled to.
- Having to repay money that they shouldn’t have received to HMRC.
- Stuck with some hefty fines or even legal proceedings through no fault of their own.
It’s so easy to end up in trouble by taking bad advice, even if the person advising you is genuinely trying to help. It can take a while for HMRC to catch up with any mistakes on your claims, so it could be a while before you start to feel the hot water you’re in. The taxman’s wheels do turn, though, and by the time you realise there’s a problem your dodgy advisor’s probably already a diminishing dot on the horizon.
A few quick pointers:
The first thing to realise about tax refund advisors is that a deal that sounds too good to be true probably is. We all want to hear there are shortcuts to getting “a better deal” out of your refund claim, but a tax refund isn’t a free handout. It’s payback for tax you never should have forked over in the first place.
If you’re taking back more than you’re owed, you’re breaking the law. It’s called tax fraud, and it’s a Very Bad Idea. If someone says they can pump up your refund by using a couple of “secret loopholes” or whatever, run a mile. Do not let someone make a claim on your behalf that isn’t 100% valid.
You will need some documentation as evidence of income and expenses.
Watch out for anyone who says you don’t need documents to back up your refund claim. That’s just not true. HMRC won’t necessarily ask for every scrap of paperwork you’ve ever picked up, but you’ve always got to be ready to prove what you’re owed.
Every year, a number of people get randomly picked for an HMRC enquiry. Those found without the evidence needed for their claim quickly start wishing they’d taken better advice. RIFT customers, of course, get any enquiries handled for them without any further stress or hassle.
Make sure you've got reliable back up.
If you do have an enquiry launched into your claim, make sure whoever’s handling it is prepared to fight for you. The taxman does make mistakes from time to time, so it’s important to push back when he tries to take money that’s rightfully yours.
Make sure you know your refund is always safe.
Our unique RIFT Guarantee means we’ll always fight your corner to keep your refund safe. As long as you’ve played square with the information you’ve given us, if we can’t convince HMRC to back off we’ll pay them from our own pockets, not yours.
Check out what other people say
When you’re picking a tax refund company, make sure you check out their reputation before handing them the keys to your claim. Trustpilot is a great website for reading real-world reviews from customers with first-hand experience.
It’s also a good idea to check whether you can meet with your advisor in person at an event. Either way, don’t go ahead until you’re sure they’re on the level. You can check out our Trust Pilot reviews here.
Make sure that what they say makes sense
While you’re at it, do a bit of legwork yourself.
- Do their claims actually make sense?
- Are the refund amounts they say they’ll get you suspiciously high compared to the average?
- Have they only been in business for a short while but say they’ve got hundreds of millions claimed back for customers or have made thousands of claims?
- Have they only got a handful of reviews or are their comments all from the same few people?
Scammers rely on you not bothering to check up on what they say they’ve done or can do, so don’t fall for big numbers if they simply don’t add up.
Check out what you're getting for your money
Check out what you’re getting for your money – and what you'll be charged for. Tax refund companies should be completely up-front about what they offer and charge and if you'll have to pay extra for anything. No one, for example, should be trying to pry additional cash out of your fingers for claiming Marriage Allowance. You’re literally just paying them to spend a minute or so filling in a simple form for you, which you can do yourself online for free.
If you pay a company to handle your tax returns, then they need to be registered as your official Agent with HMRC. This is what allows the taxman to talk to them about your financial affairs. That means filling in a form called “64-8 Authorising your Agent”. If your advisor wants to remain anonymous to the taxman or you, it’s time to get suspicious.
Checklist: avoiding the scammers and non-specialists
- Have they got a good, checkable track record with MOD tax refund claims?
- Are you sure they have the specialist knowledge needed to handle complex claims with international travel?
- Did they show you a full calculation of your refund? You can't just lump your expenses together and claim them all under one category.
- Did you get a copy of the tax return they submitted for you?
- Did they ask for receipts for your expenses?
- Do the expenses claimed match your own records?
- Do you have a formal written agreement with them? Never accept a “nod and handshake“ deal.
RIFT has been claiming tax rebates for our customers since 1999 and our specialist MOD teams are the best in the business.We're a proud member of the Armed Forces Covenant at Silver Level and are working hard towards achieving Gold.
On top of that, your refund is fully protected by the RIFT Guarantee. Don’t get stuck paying a scammer or “have-a-go” accountant. We’re the UK’s leading tax experts, and that means you’re always better off with RIFT.