Experience counts when you’re tackling the taxman on a daily basis. That doesn’t just mean knowing your way around the tax refund rules and regulations – although that’s a crucial part of it. Beyond that, though, you’ve really got to understand the industries you’re working with. It takes in-depth knowledge to get the very best from a refund claim, which is why RIFT’s specialist teams are built from experts like Eric MacKenzie. A seasoned construction industry veteran with decades of experience under his belt, here’s his personal “Road to RIFT” story in his own words.

Eric Mackenzie RIFT Rep, with Billy Murray

How did you get here?

By the time I started working with RIFT I was already retired. For the last 25 years, I’d been running a successful hydraulic hose replacement business. I’d been involved in the building game for a long time already, so I was very used to being on-site and dealing with the industry’s various trades, mainly in the factory and house building fields. I’d also got a lot of experience working in diesel engine remanufacturing for construction, plant hire and so on.

Why did you choose RIFT?

Well, I first saw an advert for the company online when they were looking to expand into the Scottish area. I was immediately drawn to RIFT by the idea that my background in construction would make for a solid fit, and I was very impressed by what they were doing for the industry. Retirement had been pretty boring for me, and I was keen to roll up my sleeves again doing some good for people in the building trade. I applied and met up with Robert on two occasions, followed by a Facetime meeting with Bradley (our MD). When they offered me the job, I decided to try it out for a few months and see how it went. 5 years later, I’m still going strong.

What do you do day-to-day?

Personal referrals from customers are a fantastic way to spread the word and benefits of tax rebates. I take a lot of calls from customers referring their mates for rebates, and I find it incredibly rewarding to help turn those initial enquiries into valuable cash for construction workers – many of whom never even realised they were owed money. I also make a lot of site visits – between 4 and 6 per day. That gives me a chance to help even more people with critical things like completing their claim forms.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Claiming tax back for people is extremely rewarding in itself, particularly when you meet them in person and hear their stories. There’s a whole other side to helping customers with tax issues, though. A lot of times, when you first meet people, they’re already in trouble with HMRC. One of the great things about RIFT is that they always do everything they can to solve those problems and get you back in the taxman’s good books. You so often find people who’ve taken bad advice and ended up in hot water, so taking someone facing HMRC fines and penalties and turning their whole situation around is a great feeling.

Where can people find you?

I’m easy to find on-site, usually either in the canteen or meeting rooms. I’m more than happy to make home visits for people if they prefer, though. If your schedule means it’s hard to meet up in person then I’m more than happy to chat over Facetime about how we can help.  I’ve actually been flagged down on the road while driving. It turned out the guy was working locally and wanted to know what RIFT was all about. We chatted for about 5 minutes and I gave him a card. We ended up sorting him out a refund claim, and he went on to refer a number of his workmates to RIFT. Another time, I was relaxing after a swim at the gym, and suddenly found myself approached by someone who ran a roofing company working with major contractors. We were able to help a lot of people off the back of that meeting.

What do you find people struggle with the most?

Awareness is probably the biggest reason people keep losing out year on year to HMRC. So many of them never even realise that tax refunds exist, or think that expenses only count if you’re self-employed. There’s a particularly nasty trap catching out people after a prison term, too. A lot of them come out facing all the same pressures that put them inside in the first place, only now they’ve got HMRC stacking up penalties against them because their paperwork wasn’t being handled properly. There’s a lot we can do to help there, and it can make a massive difference to shift that weight off their shoulders at a critical time.

Of course, you often find people who need that little extra help. People with dyslexia, or for whom English is not a first language, for instance, can find it impossible to navigate the paperwork involved in a tax refund claim. Having RIFT in their corner can make all the difference in the world.

Tell us a little about yourself

Well, I like to travel – particularly to the USA and the Far East. One time, I hired a sailing boat on a Thailand beach. Suddenly the boat overturned and rolled over in a huge swell. I ended up standing on top of the upturned vessel and waving for help! Another time on the boat, we spent ages trying to track down the source of a strange noise. It turns out we’d picked up an unexpected passenger from the beach in the form of a tiny kitten!

Other than that, I enjoy going out to restaurants and generally socialising. If you ever find yourself in Glasgow and in need of a curry, I can heartily recommend The Dhabba. Ask for Pete and mention my name…

RIFT are the UK's leading tax rebate and tax return experts, who've been in the industry since 1999.  If you're working in construction and based in Scotland look out for Eric on site.