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Separation and tax credits

 

 

SusieS
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Citizen's Advice Haringey

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Joined: 25 January 2017

My client separated from her husband but as she did not have a bank account, and due to his fraudulent business activities was unable to open one, gave her ex’s account details imagining that he would be decent enough to give her the money. Needless to say, he has been keeping it and she is living on her part time salary and CB.

1. .HMRC is querying the fact that both children live with the client, which they do and are using it as an excuse not to pay the full award. They keep requesting more and more documents and evidence which she provides e.g. GP letters, letters from the school, utility bills. You name it, she has provided it.

2.I wrote to HMRC and they telephoned to say they would accept a friend’s nominated bank account for payment of CTC and WTC and that they had made the full award

3. On the day HMRC called, HMRC sent a letter saying that the MR could not be processed because they didn’t have enough evidence that the children were living with the client. My client has been told by someone that she has to get an affidavit to say they are living with her. More expense she can ill afford.

Can anyone help me get round this or advise me what to do next?

     
Mark Willis
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Welfare Rights Worker, CPAG in Scotland

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Hi Susies
It sounds like there are a few possibilities going on here.

1. Suspension of payments due to lack of account details? (See CPAG handbook p1461) Under the Tax Credits (Payment by the Commissioners) Regulations, Reg 14, she can request HMRC to provide authority to open an account in her own name, which should be accepted for a basic bank account or Post Office card account. However, if she has now notified account details in a friend’s name that can be accepted unless there is reason for suspicion. It would usually be paid into same account as CB. It is still possible for HMRC to issue a cheque if payment into account is not possible. More information in HMRC guidance https://www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/tax-credits-technical-manual/tctm08100 & https://www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/tax-credits-manual/tcm0232260

2. Suspension of payments due to failure to provide information? This is possible if she has failed to provide information within the period requested (at least 30 days). But it seems as if she has provided all the information she can. However, as we are now in the renewal period, HMRC has discretion whether or not to make provisional payments pending the initial decision for 2017/18 – this could be pursued by complaint and on hardship grounds – involve MP.

3. Mandatory reconsideration? – you mentioned an MR so this would indicate a decision has been made at some point that she is not responsible for the children. Under the Tax Credits Act Section 21A (2), HMRC must carry out the review (MR) as soon as reasonably practicable. under 21A(5) where further information is requested but not provided by the date specified, the MR may proceed without that information or evidence – so there is no provision to say it cannot be processed. In this case, it may help to put pressure on HMRC to issue a mandatory reconsideration notice so that she can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal if this is the issue. She does not have to pay for any affidavit, her own written statement is just as good, along with as much evidence as possible about where the children are living. She must have ended the joint claim and made a new claim as a single person, but if her husband has put in a competing claim for the children that could be a problem.

Hope this is some help - see CPAG handbook Chapter 64 for more on getting a tax credits decision changed, but the first step is usually getting HMRC to clarify exactly what decision has been made.
Mark

     
Elliot Kent
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In terms of affidavits, I think its still possible to draft your own affidavit on a form N285, go to the local county court and ask an official to put you on oath and complete the jurat. That would be free. Hopefully Claire will correct me if I’m wrong about that…

They can’t insist on one of course - they still have to make their decision based on the available evidence - however an affidavit may be viewed as carrying more weight than a simple written statement.

     
SusieS
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Citizen's Advice Haringey

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Joined: 25 January 2017

Really really helpful posts. Many thanks to you both. I will follow up with this information and let you know the result.
Susie
Haringey CAB