RNIB is working with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on a project to support blind and partially sighted people with tax and benefit issues. Our service is free and confidential.
We can explain the main tax allowances, benefits and concessions that you could be entitled to.
Tax issues we can help with include:
To read some examples of the difference our service has made to people with sight loss, visit our page on how we have helped.
Listen to an interview about our service
Michael, from RNIB's Tax Advice Service, recently spoke to Infosound about how our service helps blind and partially sighted people. He explained how we can help ensure people are getting the tax exemptions, allowances and other benefits they are entitled to.
Infosound produces free audio information on a range of topics that directly affect people with sight loss. To listen to more of their audio articles, visit their website.
If you are registered severely sight impaired (blind), or if you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland and are unable to perform any work for which eyesight is essential, you can claim the Blind Person's Allowance.
The Blind Person's Allowance is added to your tax-free Personal Allowance and increases the amount of income you can have each year before you start paying tax.
The Blind Person's Allowance for the tax year 2015-16 is £2,290, regardless of your age or income.
You can transfer the Blind Person's Allowance, or the unused part of it, to your spouse or civil partner. This can be done whether or not they are blind. If both you and your spouse or civil partner qualify for Blind Person's Allowance you can claim an allowance each.
John is aged 65 and is registered severely sight impaired (blind). His Personal Allowance is £10,600 plus the Blind Person’s Allowance which means he has a tax-free allowance of £12,890. John receives a State Pension and a private pension of £12,000. As his pension income is less than £12,890 he pays no tax. John can transfer the unused £890 of his Blind Person’s Allowance to his wife to reduce her tax bill.
How to claim the Blind Person’s Allowance
Lines are open from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am to 4pm on Saturdays. You will need to know your National Insurance number.
You can ask HMRC to backdate your claim for the previous four tax years.
You may know that from 6 April 2014 the annual allowance for tax relief on pension savings in a registered pension scheme was reduced to £40,000. Your pension scheme administrator will soon be issuing you with an annual allowance pension statement for the 2014 to 2015 tax year if you have contributed more than £40,000 to their pension scheme.
If you have exceeded the £40,000 annual allowance for the 2014 to 2015 tax year across all of your pension schemes and you do not have sufficient unused annual allowance to carry forward from previous tax years, you will have an annual allowance tax charge. You can find more information on annual allowance and carry forward on the HMRC website.
It is really important that if you have exceeded the annual allowance for 2014 to 2015 across all of your pension savings, you declare this on your Self Assessment Tax Return (the final deadline that you have to submit this by is 31 January 2016).
Scheme administrators only need to provide you with a pension savings statement if you have contributed above the annual allowance in their scheme. So, if your total contributions exceed the £40,000 annual allowance across all schemes, you may not get a pension savings statement but you may still have exceeded the annual allowance.
You can use the online tools and calculators on the HMRC website, include their pension savings annual allowance calculator, to help check whether you need to declare and pay an annual allowance tax charge, even if you haven't received a pension statement from your pension scheme administrator. You can find more information on paying tax charges at Tax on your private pension contributions at GOV.UK.
For more information on our tax advice service, call us on 0345 330 4897 or 0151 702 5721 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information, you can also download the two factsheets we have produced: