HMRC is blocking me from opening a lifetime Isa to supplement my pension savings because of an admin error it had made. You have to apply before the age of 40 and I did so weeks before my birthday, but the building society told me it could not match my records with HMRC. Eventually, I established HMRC had entered my date of birth incorrectly, which explains why I have never been able to log into my online account. It is, apparently, incapable of talking to other departments such as the passport office, which holds the correct details, and has told me to post a certified copy of my birth certificate. I have done this, but it has said it could take 21 weeks to rectify its mistake – at which point, since I turn 40 at the end of the month, it will be too late.
Lifetime Isas are tax-free savings intended to help people save for their first home, or retirement. The allure is a 25% bonus added by the government to whatever you pay in (it only applies to payments of up to £4,000 a year) until you turn 50. That means you could expect up to £10,000 government money, plus interest, so the error would cost you dear. It seems unlikely you would ever have got it resolved if you hadn’t gone to the press. A call to the HMRC press office prompted an instant turnaround. Your birth date was corrected and, in the nick of time, you successfully opened your account.
HMRC says: “We are sorry for the delay, and have now confirmed the details have been updated.” Worryingly, the department then spelled your name incorrectly. Hopefully that won’t be the beginning of another story.