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Tax advice for gays criticised as ‘unnecessary’

Jessica Geen June 19, 2009

Tax advice for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people published by HM Revenue and Customs has been criticised as unnecessary.

The booklet, titled Diversity in HMRC, is to be distributed at London Pride next week. It details advice for those in civil partnerships about their tax allowances and inheritance tax thresholds.

It also offers guidance to trans people on claiming pensions under their new or old gender.

However, the Taxpayers’ Alliance has called it a waste of money.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the group, told the Daily Telegraph: “HMRC is meant to produce simple, clear guidance for everyone, not spend extra money going out of their way to target particular minorities.”

He added: “As for their LGBT recruitment drive, the only thing they should be demanding in staff is an ability to count and an ability not to lose people’s private data – beyond that, it surely doesn’t matter.”

However, another expert praised its content but expressed concern the booklet would not reach those it is aimed at.

Steve Bee, head of pensions strategy at the Royal London Group, said: “Most of the information in the booklet is very useful, though I am doubtful that the people it is aimed at will ever get to see it. Do you really go to Pride to find out about your tax status?”

The booklet was also praised by Stonewall.

Derek Munn, Stonewall’s director of public affairs: “Lesbian and gay taxpayers deserve and expect value for money, just like anyone else. HMRC are to be commended for adopting a proactive approach to equality.

“If passed, the Equality Bill currently being debated by Parliament would require all publicly funded services to adopt a similarly proactive approach – something which Stonewall strongly welcomes.”

An HMRC spokesman said: “HMRC attended Pride events in 2007 and 2008 where our customers told us they wanted information around how aspects of HMRC business affected them specifically, in particular around the introduction of civil partnerships. This booklet has been produced to address that specific customer need.”

The book is available online here

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