Money Grouse: Jumping the tax hurdle

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The Independent Online
THIS is the time of year when many people start to sort out their tax affairs in preparation for filling out their annual returns.

Some, like Judith Holliday of Nottingham, will be owed refunds of tax paid on building society interest. Typically, this will be because part or all of their building society interest is within their personal allowance. Societies do not have the facility to offset personal allowances against interest so the saver ends up paying too much tax and needs to reclaim it from the Inland Revenue.

Before they can do that they need to obtain a certificate of tax deduction - known as a Section 352 certificate - from their building society.

Mrs Holliday has had trouble extracting a certificate for her Bradford & Bingley Building Society account.

'This has been a recurring problem. In 1992 four requests to the Nottingham branch and numerous telephone calls to head office were required before the relevant certificates were produced.

'This year I made the initial request to the Nottingham branch for the certificate in February followed by two further requests. I was told it was not Bradford & Bingley policy to supply certificates before the end of the tax year to which they related.'

Mrs Holliday complained to the society's head office, which apologised and said she had been misinformed.

Colin Russell, customer service manager at the society, said: 'It is our normal policy to issue tax certificates on request.' He said Mrs Holliday's certificate had now been posted.

The society did not think it necessary to issue certificates automatically to all its 1.5 million savers. 'Not everyone receives the certificates. We normally only receive 100,000 requests a year,' Mr Russell said.

Halifax Building Society has a pecking order. All savers receive them if they ask and once someone has requested a certificate once, they will automatically receive one at the end of the tax year in future. Savers with money in the society's Asset Reserve cheque account and the Tessa account receive them automatically, as do investors with at least pounds 5,000 in their account or those who have pounds 500 or more in interest credited during the year.

Nationwide issues them on request, and Abbey National automatically.

Write to Money Grouse, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. Include a daytime telephone number. Do not send SAEs or original documents.

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