“I'd like to thank RIFT for working hard to get me a tax rebate. I'm just coming to the end of a 5-year sentence, when coming into custody, I lost everything and all I have is the jeans & top which I came in with. This money RIFT has claimed back for me will allow me to go out and buy scaffolding tools which is needed. So, I'd like to say thank you so much.”
If a prisoner was working prior to coming into prison and paying tax via PAYE, there is a likelihood that they are entitled to a rebate of any tax that they have overpaid. This is because HMRC take tax at source on a 12-month, pro-rata basis. Additionally, if someone was self-employed, has served in the military or was working under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) before coming to prison, they may be entitled to reclaim tax on their travel to and from temporary work places, uniform costs, training courses etc.
It is very difficult for prisoners to pursue a tax refund claim independently due to the lack of internet and phone access. Additionally, they are required to submit various proofs of employment/income which can be hard to access whilst inside.
After a sustained period of piloting the viability of claiming tax refunds for people in prisons, we received support from the Ministry of Justice who were keen to promote this service across the prison estate, recognising that money in a prisoner’s pocket prior to release could significantly enhance their prospects of a successful rehabilitation (eg spending the refund on a rent deposit or equipment for a job)
As of May 2020, we deliver this service in 32 prisons and in two Probation areas. 20% of all prisoners assessed on reception are eligible for a tax refund and the average refund that we have claimed for prisoners stands at £618. We have successfully reclaimed over £130k in tax refunds for people in prison.
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