Paul Retout’s Story: The Andy Dufrayne of HMP Brixton

The value of all Networks is to pay it forward. Paul’s experience led him to find the Corbett Network and pay his experience forward. He is now a very dear and valued member of our community. Read his story below…

“I entered HMP Wandsworth prison in Oct 2013. Being a tax expert, I wanted to do something positive whilst in prison, so I worked alongside the education provider A4e and ran tax seminars. Due to their popularity, I also ran tax clinics from my cell and soon realised there was a real demand for tax support in prison as I would often be asked for slides in the corridor! The prison even moved me to the new Trinity Wing where I had my own key to help me with my work and continued my tax support from HMP Brixton where I also worked in the Bad Boys Bakery..

In March 2014, released from HMP Brixton, I wrote an article for Inside Time ‘The Ten Tax Tips for Prisoners’. This was subsequently spotted by The Times who published an article and cartoon comparing me to Andy Dufrayne from the Shawshank Redemption! Then HMRC invited me to Parliament Street and requested my expertise to help them with the growing problem of tax debt in prisons.

As a former prisoner they were unable to provide me with any funding but they could provide me with resources. It was at that stage that the Tax Academy CIC was born.

Subsequently, I was appointed to the HMRC The Individuals Stakeholder Forum representing the prisoner network with quarterly meetings in Parliament Street (next to Downing Street) and having access to the HMRC Voluntary Sector Tax Resolution Service (‘VSTRS’). This enables me to have contact with a specialist HMRC team based in Portsmouth which can make instant decisions on cancelling, for instance, tax penalties or writing off tax debt. We are the only prison organisation with access to these unique HMRC resources.

The Inside Time editor John Roberts has supported me on my journey and I now write monthly articles alongside my advert. Since I started The Tax Academy CIC, I have worked on over 2,500 tax cases and we are now the largest provider of tax support within prisons, now helping over 750 prisoners each year and as importantly, provide ongoing tax support once the prisoner leaves prison.

I am happy to provide any advice Corbett Network members need so please do not hesitate to contact me.

From Paul Retout, Founder The Tax Academy CIC.

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