We launched Because Tax Matters as a way to help our people use their skills and tax expertise to give something back to the communities across the UK. Find out how our people are helping those in need of advice, raising awareness and offering education, and providing pro bono support to tax charities.
Helping those in need of advice
We work with two major tax charities in the UK: TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People, which provide free tax advice for people who need professional support but can’t afford to pay for it. Our pilot team of 18 volunteers has worked on around 100 individual cases in FY18, helping vulnerable and low-income taxpayers to resolve their tax problems. Our teams in Newcastle and Leeds meet taxpayers in person, and our casework team from across the UK provide advice by telephone. Many of the taxpayers we help have small underpayments of tax caused by errors in their tax code, and this can escalate into large debts due to penalties and interest. Others have simply fallen behind on their tax return compliance due to ill health or other problems. Just a couple of hours of support from an experienced volunteer can help resolve what seems like an insurmountable problem for a vulnerable taxpayer.
A day in the lab
We’ve also been working with the tax charities on their vision for the future. In April 2018, we ran a bespoke ‘lab’ for both charities at the Deloitte offices, bringing together key stakeholders, including trustees, senior management, office managers and volunteers, with a cross-business line Deloitte team on hand to make the day a success. The lab incorporated our research on the market for the charities’ services, user experience design work by Deloitte Digital to understand how the charities interact with their clients and volunteers, and the expertise of our Greenhouse trained facilitators to deliver a creative brainstorming day. During the lab, we explored the charities’ strategy, the target population for their services, priorities, as well as barriers to change.
“Many thanks for laying on such a good day… It was very well thought out and designed – and your people did a first class job in delivering an event which fired our teams up and got the best out of them.”
Just a phone call away
The charities estimate that between 60,000 and 300,000 individuals on low incomes could be in need of their services each year – a figure our own research supports. Yet TaxAid can only open its helplines for two hours per day, dealing with around 8,000 cases a year. It currently has around 60 volunteers supporting the full time charity employees. So Deloitte Digital provided pro bono support to help the charities document their current case allocation and workflow management process, and understand how improved technology could increase efficiencies and scale up the volunteering programme to keep the helplines open for longer. This would also help the charities get a better understanding of their user base and measure the impact of the support they provide.
We’ve also helped the charities’ management team by sharing our experience in areas like GDPR and managing bid processes, and one of our partners, Craig Muir, has become a trustee of Tax Help for Older People.
We’re now working with the charities to implement a new technology platform. To ensure this goes to plan, we’ve seconded one of our consultants - Lawrence Deakins - to TaxAid. He’s also managing the casework volunteering programme, evaluating how the volunteer programme could be expanded to include working on the helpline, and helping create and implement a communication strategy to improve volunteer engagement. We make a financial donation to TaxAid every year and we’ll increase our fundraising efforts this year for the charities’ joint Bridge the Gap campaign, which supports the thousands of people who cannot afford advice.
Matt Ellis, Managing Partner for Tax said, “My aspiration is for Because Tax Matters to become embedded in our culture, giving everyone in Tax the opportunity to participate. The tax charities provide a valuable safety net for those who can’t afford to access help with their tax problems, and the tax profession should be supporting the charities to make sure that they can help all those who need their help.”