It's been stated by the government and HMRC that they can make a special case for write off if a claimant has mental health issues.
Why not try a letter along the following lines, and let us know if it helps?
Don't forget, MIND are there to help, too...
House of Commons,
As a constituent and Tax Credit Casualty (see You must be logged in to see this link. ), I would like you to write to HM Revenue and Customs and to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Timms asking for a full write-off of my alleged overpayment of £
As you will see from the enclosed medical/professional/welfare agency statement(s), I have a mental health diagnosis and it is not in the public interest to pursue recovery of this sum. If I were well enough to pursue the dispute route taken by claimants who do not have mental health needs, I feel strongly that I would eventually be able to prove to HMRC’s satisfaction that I was fully compliant, did nothing wrong, and am a victim of HMRC’s own maladministration. Unfortunately, my mental health is currently so poor that I have more than enough to contend with in my daily life without having to pursue a lengthy and stressful dispute, with all the associated fear and uncertainty taking its daily toll on my health.
Those parts of the Tax Credit Manual which are accessible to the public, which are not obscured by a note saying that “text has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000”, clearly state that HMRC can choose to write off an alleged overpayment for a claimant who has a mental health condition:
“If you receive information/evidence about the mental health problem of a claimant you can agree not to pursue that claimant for payment. This is to prevent any detrimental effect or unreasonable distress to the claimant… In the majority of cases, the initial contact about a claimant’s mental health problem will be from a third party on behalf of the claimant, such as from a doctor or psychiatric nurse. Organisations such as MIND and Citizens Advice Bureaux can also be involved.”
You will, I am sure, be aware that the Disability Discrimination Act requires providers of services to make “reasonable adjustments” to how they deliver these in order not to discriminate against people with disabilities. I am sure you will agree that a “reasonable adjustment” to the usual, long, painstaking and stressful dispute process would be for HMRC to take responsibility for its own shortcomings and not exacerbate my mental health needs by putting these intolerable pressures on me knowing full well that I am unable to wage a lengthy dispute, but to wipe the slate clean and allow me to live my life free of this additional, undeserved burden.
I note that the previous Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jane Kennedy, said:
“Where it seems that a customer's financial circumstances are unlikely to change, for example because they are on long-term benefit or are seriously ill, HMRC will remit the debt.”
Sadly, the user group to which I belong - Tax Credit Casualties - sees scant evidence of this, and a shocking lack of understanding of the needs of those who have disabilities or physical health conditions, which brings HMRC into disrepute and serves nobody well.
As my MP I am confident that you can challenge this injustice on my behalf, and increase awareness of this important issue.
I look forward to your swift resolution of this matter.
cc Tax Credit Casualties
The enclosure should give the following evidence, according to HMRC's manual:
DMBM555620 – Tax Credits overpayments: Mental Health cases: Evidence required
The Disability and Discrimination Act 1995 defines a person with a disability as someone with a ‘physical or mental impairment which has a long-term adverse affect on his/her ability to carry out normal day to day activities’. This definition should be used when considering the effect of the mental health problem on the claimant’s ability to repay.
The evidence should include the nature of the illness and as far as possible, whether the illness is likely to be long-term (for example schizophrenia) or where the prospects for recovery are expected to be good (such as depression).
If the initial approach is a letter from the third party explaining the mental health problem, or includes such a letter from the claimant or third party, treat this as evidence obtained, see DMBM555630.
If the required evidence is not initially available, you should write to the claimant or third party asking for documentary evidence about the nature of the illness and its prognosis (likely outcome) from the claimant’s
community psychiatric nurse
general practitioner (Note: some GP’s charge a small fee for this service)
mental health social worker
other healthcare professional.
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Morpheus: I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it.