Thousands of Help to Buy Isa customers hit by declaration error

9 October 2017

Thousands of Help to Buy Isa customers have been written to by their bank or building society after signing incorrect declarations when opening their accounts.

When opening an Isa, consumers are required to sign a declaration which states they have not subscribed to more than the annual tax-free £20,000 Isa allowance.

However, many providers have had to write to customers after failing to account for the full Isa range – including the recently launched Innovative Finance Isa and Lifetime Isa - in the declaration.

HM Treasury told Moneywise that around 3,000 customers had signed incorrect declarations and have needed to be sent new forms. The issue has affected 11 of the 28 providers offering Help to Buy Isas, although it would not confirm which providers.

Moneywise has seen one letter posted to customers of Darlington Building Society which apologises for the mistake and asks for them to sign a new declaration letter.

The Treasury has confirmed that no customers would lose out financially because of the mistake, even if they fail to reply to the new declaration letter.

The issue occurred because the text for the Help to Buy Isa declaration is provided by the Treasury while the general Isa guidance is issued by HMRC. The wording should be the same, but in this case the guidance issued by the Treasury was out of date.

The Treasury said it remains the provider’s responsibility to ensure its declarations are up to date.

‘No-one will lose out’

A statement provided to Moneywise by HM Treasury says: “The number of savers involved is around 3,000, out of the more than one million Help to Buy Isas opened so far.

“No-one will lose out on claiming their government bonus towards buying a house but their providers may ask them to fill out an updated declaration. Anyone needing advice should speak to their Isa provider.”

Brian Morris, head of savings policy at the Building Societies Association, says: “This issue relates to a number of Help to Buy Isa providers and has been caused by out of date declaration wording being provided by HM Treasury in their Help to Buy Isa guidance.

“Whilst HMRC are keen to get correct declarations completed, they have confirmed to us that no customer will be penalised or lose out should they fail to complete a corrected declaration.”

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