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Approval to file tax return

Obtain approval to file tax return for incapacitated taxpayer with no power of attorney in place

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I have been acting for an elderly couple for some years now.  One spouse is bed ridden and registered blind.  The other spouse had a stroke and is no longer able to communicate or sign their return.  There is no power of attorney in place for the spouse unable to communicate.  Does anyone have any suggestions about how I can obtain approval to submit the return from the spouse who is unable to communicate?  They do not have the funds or ability to submit a power of attorney for that spouse.

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By gillybean04
25th May 2022 16:14

If they can't afford the fees, would their financial circumstances entitle them to any help with the fees?

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Replying to 356B:
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By gillybean04
25th May 2022 17:00

Those are where the client can deal with HMRC, or at least can authorise someone to deal with them.

I believe the client is unable to do either of those things and, as there is no valid power of attorney currently, there is no one else who can do it on his behalf.

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Replying to gillybean04:
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By CarolineC
25th May 2022 17:15

Thank you, that is the issue in a nutshell! I have prepared the return but can't get the taxpayers approval to file it. I have no idea how I can proceed?

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Replying to CarolineC:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
25th May 2022 17:24

If you are an ICAEW member, I would speak to their ethics line.

But ultimately I think you are going to end up with a fudge of some sort if you cant get an LPA sorted out or you dealing with the Court of Protection which is a whole lot of pain.

Presumably there is a third party you deal with on a day to day basis? I wonder if you prepare it as a paper return, they could actually sign and send it, using boxes 23-26 on page TR8 and its not your problem. HMRC are hardly going to read who signed it, or care so long as its in.

On a wider point do they actually meet the SA critera? Ie can you get it killed off or dealt with on the informal basis as agent?

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By CarolineC
25th May 2022 17:39

I deal on a day to day basis with the blind spouse and have, as I always do, sent them a paper return, but the blind spouse would struggle to sign given their disability. We want to do an SA return as each year, due to the blind person's allowance claim, transfer of surplus allowance to the tax paying spouse, and transfer of unused married couple's allowance, there is always a refund due. A call to the ICAEW may be the next step, but wanted to check here first as there must be lots of other people in the same position so wondered what they had done in these circumstances, thank you.

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Replying to CarolineC:
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By gillybean04
25th May 2022 18:36

Is it the blind spouse who needs the tax return? I thought it was the client who had the stroke as they tend to be sudden while blindness tends to either be from birth or gradual - so they have time to make arrangements (unlike a stroke).

If it's the blind client, could they not call HMRC explain the situation and then ask for a reasonable adjustment? I'm not sure if spouse is completely blind or just severely sight impaired, but they do large print and braille. So they must have at least considered access to services for sight impaired, and hopefully have a workaround.

If the only reason they're completing a tax return is to transfer unused BPA and marriage allowance transfer, I don't think they need to do a tax return. Unless they perhaps don't have any PAYE sources.

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Replying to CarolineC:
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By gillybean04
25th May 2022 17:22

I believe they'll need to apply to the Court of Protection who can appoint someone to act on the client's behalf. There is a fee for this but, depending on their circumstances, they may qualify for help with the fee.

I think the most you can probably do (since capacity is a legal matter not a tax one) is advise you're unable to file without authority and that they will need to obtain authority, possibly suggesting they may want to check with the CoP and whether they can get help with the fees.

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Replying to gillybean04:
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By David Ex
25th May 2022 19:58

gillybean04 wrote:

I believe they'll need to apply to the Court of Protection who can appoint someone to act on the client's behalf. There is a fee for this but, depending on their circumstances, they may qualify for help with the fee.

Believe that’s another government body (like the passport office and DVLA) where backlogs are huge.

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Replying to David Ex:
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By zebaa
25th May 2022 20:03

I used to be on a company board where one member was blind. He signed paper returns and had a cut out card so he could feel where to make his mark.

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By Jane Wanless
25th May 2022 20:19

I agree with the responses asking if it's at all possible to remove the couple from hte SA system.
If that's not possible, how do either approve their tax returns? Do they have the capacity to understand them, so you talk through the figures and the clients agree, but can't physically sign? If so, can an independent third party confirm that the clients authorised submission of the forms? Local vicar? Friendly JP? etc. I'd then ask HMRC to accept that although not "signed", the returns have been approved by the clients.
Also, is the GP or consultant able to provide a letter confirming capacity?

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By Calculatorboy
25th May 2022 20:21

If no relative or neighbours what about RNIB sight loss advisers.. might help ?

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By bernard michael
26th May 2022 10:27

Do they have any relatives, who could assist ??

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By TASG
27th May 2022 10:28

I would accept verbal authority to file from the blind taxpayer after reading to them the relevant sections of the return.

For the taxpayer without capacity, the strict ethical position is that you cannot file until a PoA is in place, and if you do so you risk making your client's problem into your own problem.

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By johnjenkins
27th May 2022 10:42

I would file and put the reasons in the additional information box. Then HMRC can decide what to do.

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Replying to johnjenkins:
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By Catherine Newman
27th May 2022 17:15

If you are able to file online I would do it. How did you get the figures in the first place? If nothing has changed except the usual increases in state pension and occupational pension what harm would it do?

I get cagey about assisting clients when I know there are relatives in the background and say that I am unable to do certain things as the relatives might kick off even though there has been no love lost for many years.

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By Michael Davies
27th May 2022 10:42

Sadly in this day and age,it is virtually impossible to get through life without someone managing one’s affairs if you are unable to do so oneself.I attend a Care Home for my Mother and a good proportion of residents are Council funded.A further proportion of those residents have to have someone to manage their affairs; where there are no family members.
Someone somewhere must be responsible for this unfortunate couple ?

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By Helpful Harry
27th May 2022 11:32

Usually County councils have teams of Business Support Officers for Older People and Physical Disability (OPPD). They can take over financial matters were individuals are no longer able to manage.
However, if the blind, bed ridden individual is still competes mentis and wants to take charge of the stroke persons affairs then, have a look at www Office for Public Guardian in particular Deputyship https://www.gov.uk/become-deputy   There are exemptions from fees https://www.gov.uk/become-deputy/fees in the criteria are met. 
Of course Deputyship, like POA still requires "actions" to get it completed which may not be an option in your case.

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By Janski
27th May 2022 11:43

For the client who has understanding but may not be able to sign, how about the accountant doing a video recording on their phone of the meeting, evidencing his explaining of the figures that will be included on the tax return? Client states that they are happy for that return to be submitted by the accountant and says that he authorises the accountant to sign it on his behalf.

This way accountant is authorised and evidence to support his signature on the return.

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By Silver Birch Accts
27th May 2022 13:55

My understanding is that a Power of Attorney cannot sign a Tax Return,on behalf of the Doner.
I stand to be corrected of course but if thay cannot then this should be altered to allow them to do so.

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By 356B
27th May 2022 16:44

Just complete boxes 23 and 24. If HMRC query it you can explain it to them.

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By tedbuck
30th May 2022 11:41

Where I have had such cases, or similar, in the past I have submitted the return with a white space note explaining the circumstances and noting, if it is the case, that the client has approved the return. If the client is not in a position so to do and there is no POA then I just said so. I can only remember one occasion when HMRC wouldn't accept it and I just wrote back telling them there was no alternative.

Of course it was a while ago and they probably aren't so pragmatic now but the answer is the same - there is no alternative.

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