Opinion Former Article

New Head of Team at the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group

Victoria Todd is the new Head of Team at the influential Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), replacing Robin Williamson MBE who has retired.

Victoria (CTA Fellow) steps up from Senior Technical Manager for LITRG, a role she has filled since 2015. Victoria joined LITRG in 2005 as Welfare Rights Technical Officer to look at the interactions between tax and benefits, becoming a Technical Officer in 2011 after completing the Association of Tax Technician (ATT) exams. Victoria is also co-editor of the award winning www.revenuebenefits.org.uk website, which is a partnership between LITRG and Lasa.

Away from LITRG, Victoria was appointed to the Social Security Advisory Committee in 2016. 

LITRG Chair Anne Fairpo said:

“We warmly welcome Victoria to her new role as Head of Team at LITRG. Her considerable experience and adept guidance will be crucial during a period of profound importance for our campaigning charity, with the rollout of universal credit and the Making Tax Digital programme, and the fallout from the Taylor Review, among the many challenges for people on low incomes.

“I would like to pay tribute to Robin Williamson, who has left LITRG in an excellent position and I am sure we will be able to build on that over the coming months and years.”

LITRG is an initiative of the CIOT and brings together former and current tax professionals and other experts to try to get the tax, tax credit and associated welfare systems working better for those on low incomes. The Group was founded 20 years ago by John Andrews OBE and Robin Williamson became its first Technical Director in 2003. Robin remains involved in the group as a volunteer.

LITRG’s achievements include the introduction of composite Notice of Coding, ensuring that carers who stay overnight are not unfairly taxed, increased protection for vulnerable taxpayers when Direct Recovery of Debts was introduced and ensuring that alternative procedures are put in place for many who are digitally less able.

Last year, LITRG’s websites received over four million visitors, demonstrating the continuing need for detailed, accurate tax information. HMRC rightly expect taxpayers to comply with their obligations, but they can only do so if they understand what is required of them and how the system works. HMRC’s guidance via GOV.UK currently falls short of providing the support needed, says LITRG.

The new Head of Team at LITRG, Victoria Todd, said:

“I am delighted to be taking over as the new Head of Team at LITRG.

“LITRG has achieved great success since it was established in 1998 and that is due to the excellent team of people that make up LITRG. I look forward to working with the LITRG team, volunteers and the wider CIOT, to ensure that LITRG remains an effective and well-respected representative body for those on low incomes who cannot afford to pay for advice.

“The world around us is changing for people on low incomes; HMRC are driving forward their digital agenda, there is much discussion about the ‘gig economy’ and HMRC have recently announced a reprioritisation of their work due to the impact of Brexit. I am keen to engage with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders to build a long term strategy for LITRG to deal with these new challenges.

“The welfare system is undergoing its biggest reform in a generation with the introduction of universal credit which has been designed around real time earnings data from HMRC and contains many rules that have origins in tax law. It is impossible to consider how changes in the tax system will impact on those with the lowest incomes without understanding their benefit position and how the two systems interact. LITRG is unique in looking across both the tax and welfare systems and the demand for that is only likely to increase as universal credit rolls out further and existing benefit claimants are moved across to the new benefit.

“As long as HMRC focus their attention and resources on getting things right for the majority, those on the lowest incomes, who often face complex tax and welfare issues, will continue to struggle to deal with the tax and benefits system. The move to digital, such as through HMRC’s Making Tax Digital project, although generally positive, is unlikely to improve that situation and for some it will make dealing with their affairs even more challenging. LITRG’s work therefore remains as relevant and much-needed as ever.”

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