Fergus Muirhead answers your consumer questions
I'm Fergus Muirhead and I'm here to answer any questions you may have about any money or consumer issues.
Please drop me a line here at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.
You can also read more on money and consumer issues on my own blog.
Q. My financial affairs are very simple. My annual income is around £16,500, I have no stocks or shares, my savings are with a building society and my bank current/cheque account never has much in it. I have a state pension, a widow's pension from my husband's employer and a very small pension from my former employer. HMRC used to tax all three from my widow's pension, but have now said that my small pension (£75) must be taxed at source (at basic rate). This is contrary to what you said a few weeks ago and I so would appreciate confirmation that all three could be taxed at one source. Joyce Forrest
A. If the total of your state pension, small pension and any other taxable income is less than the personal allowance, then it should be possible to receive state and small pension gross, and have a deduction in code for both of these in the third pension. This won't necessarily happen automatically though, so you would have to contact HMRC and ask them for a deduction in the code applied to the third pension.
Q. My wife is 75 and I am 71. We have our state pensions coming in, plus a Royal Air Force pension that was taxed at K60 on 9 March for tax year 2012-13. Then I got another coding of 170P on 4 April. I am also taxed on my Scotrail pension at basic rate. I simply cannot understand the variation. I have written numerous letters to them but have received no reply. Last year I received a letter from HMRC telling me I owed them £464 for tax not paid. If I am on PAYE, then surely it is up to them to code my taxing correctly, not myself. Hope you can help me. Cliff Ellis
A. I would need a bit more information to give a precise answer here but we can have a general look. You have three pensions - state, RAF and Scotrail. Scotrail taxed your pension at basic rate, which seems fine given the two other pensions, and the RAF would have a code reduction for the state pension being received, and also a reduction for any other taxable income. So the RAF pension may have been on a K60 code if state pension plus other taxable income was more than the personal allowances due. This is just a guess though and the coding notices in support of the K60 code and the 170P code would indicate exactly what was being deducted for state pension and other taxable income and where the difference has arisen, which could be due to a number of things. Your savings income (except for ISA income) would have to be declared as this is taxable income. Also you mentioned an underpayment. What you should do about this is dependent on which tax year the underpayment related to and when (and why) it was actually issued. I would definitely need more details on this to advise properly.
Q. This is a bit of a puzzler! I went to a promotional evening at my local beauty salon, and was encouraged to buy a programme of three treatments to help repair my sun-damaged face. This was October last year. It was a 3 for 2 deal and cost £650. I paid on my credit card, and my friend did the same. Since then we have both decided that we think the treatment is too risky, we no longer would like the treatments, and have asked for the credit card to be reimbursed. My friend had her card reimbursed, but they have refused to do mine, as I have not been a loyal long-term customer like my friend (in other words it was a gesture of goodwill for her). This is quite ridiculous, as I have been to the salon on and off for ten years or more. Have I any rights to get my money back, do you know please? Veronica Bartlya
A. Unfortunately I think the short answer is no. As I understand from your letter you have not had the treatments yet, you have just 'changed your mind'. That being the case it is up to the service provider to decide whether you should be eligible for a refund or not. It does seem a bit unfair if they have decided to let your friend have a refund and not you, but under current legislation that is their right. You say you decided that the treatments were going to be too 'risky' so the only way you could argue that you should be entitled to a refund would be if you were able to show why the treatments were too risky and that the salon shouldn't be offering them to anyone.
Q. I have a low cost endowment due to mature in September. Will I have to pay income tax on the final payment, somewhere between £12,000 - £15,000? Margaret Clegg
A. You'll be glad to hear that the answer is most likely to be no. There is no liability to capital gains tax on endowments policies and very rarely income tax, and then only if you are a higher rate tax payer. As long as it is a 'qualifying policy', and broadly that means that it was due to last for more than 10 years and that you are not going to 'surrender' it within the first 75% of its term, then you should be okay.