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Claims that members of the public are missing out on the recently introduced marriage tax break because of the Gov.uk Verify scheme have been denied by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Many people are having problems applying for the tax benefit, whereby families with one working adult can have their income tax lowered when their unemployed spouse transfers them £1060 of their unused tax-free personal allowance.
“No one will miss out on the Marriage Allowance because of difficulties with online verification. People can apply at any stage in the tax year and get the full entitlement regardless of when they claim,” said an HMRC spokesperson.
“It’s not our IT system; it’s the Cabinet Office’s,” the spokesperson added.
Gov.uk Verify was launched in 2014, and is designed to allow users to prove their identity online to securely access digital public services.
When confirming their identity online, a user will go through a third-party authentication provider, such as Experian, Verizon or the Post Office, to assess their identity using official documentation such as a passport or photo driving licence.
But because of the demographic surrounding the marriage tax refund, many people have been unable to use this system for verification, as they do not have one or more of the documents used for reference when verifying their identity.
“For anyone who has trouble using Gov.uk Verify, alternative options are available, such as HMRC security checks. In the unlikely event they are still unable to confirm their identity online, they will be given a phone number to call to complete the application,” said HMRC’s spokesperson.
HMRC is encouraging the public to attempt to register online first, and highlighted users will find out in minutes whether they can complete their application through Verify.
Read more about Gov.uk Verify
If they are unable to use Verify, they will be referred to HMRC’s old online system, before ultimately being directed to a phone number if this is still not suitable.
This problem is very similar to those suffered by farmers before the rural digital payments service designed to issue payments to farmers had to be withdrawn, forcing farmers to return to paper forms.
Problems with the rural payments system meant it was taking some farmers hours to register for European Union subsidies up to weeks before the deadline.
Although the Verify scheme is still in its trial stage, these issues highlight the difficulties the Cabinet Office’s “digital by default” plans can bring for particular demographics, including vulnerable members of the public, people without the necessary documentation and those who do not have access to the internet.