Bank staff fail tax test

bank Be prepared to be blown away! You'll barely be able to believe what you're about to hear! Staff at some of the biggest banks in the UK, aren't able to answer basic questions about tax and savings accounts.

This is according to the folks at Which!!! who have been going hard on some mystery shopper action. They found that almost 1 in 10 staff couldn't tell them whether tax was automatically taken from interest in savings accounts, while 40% of them had no idea how much was deducted.

Which!!! also found that staff didn't know much about the ways non-taxpayers can stop tax being deducted, or how to claim back tax that has been overpaid.

Of course, most customer-facing staff in banks aren't trained very well and, of course, aren't paid particularly well, which means those who would be experts in such matters are probably working elsewhere, for better wages. However, there'll be enough people who think bank staff should know more.

Which!!! asked the following questions.

'Is tax deducted?' - 1 in 10 call handlers answered incorrectly, with one Barclays agent suggested that anyone on a pension wouldn't be taxed and another from HSBC put their researcher on hold twice while trying to get an answer - and then came back with the wrong one.

'How much is deducted?' - Which!!! wanted to hear that 20% tax was automatically deducted, however, 42% of those asked couldn't answer the question. Barclays and TSB were judged to have been the worst.

'If you don't pay tax, what can you do?' - Which!!! wanted to hear about R85, the form you submit to banks to stop tax being taken from your interest. Not one of the banks scored 100% on this question, but Halifax, Yorkshire Building Society and First Direct scored highly.

'What can you do if you've overpaid tax?' - This is where someone should tell you about the R40 form, where you can claim back overpaid tax. The banks did not do well on this.

So, in terms of doing well, Halifax, Yorkshire Building Society and First Direct came out on top, while at the bottom of the pile, you'll find Barclays and NatWest.

What do you think?

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