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moonfleet
Rank; Hector Tax Inspector


United Kingdom
7 Posts

Posted - 22/10/2010 :  11:48:58  Show Profile Send moonfleet a Private Message
Hello

I have a problem with tax credits which some may say 'just pay the money back' and some may say 'don't let them get away with it'! My conscience says pay it back but my principles say fight them to the death. lol
Here goes my story and I hope someone can offer something to my case.

I was receiving working tax credit up to June 2009 as I'd ceased work Dec 2008 (forced early retirement). I have a daughter, who at the time was 17 and at college. I have never qualified for the child element as my earnings (together with pensions and bereavement benefit..I'm a widower) meant I was well over the top for claiming the child element. When my wtc stopped in June 2009 I thought that was it....I'll live on my pensions etc.
I received a renewal notice 17/06/2010 saying that I was nil entitlement and my earnings were £xxxx, my daughter was a qualifying dependant but I'd been overpaid £57 for a previous year! I was going on holiday the next day and I wanted it sorted out pronto! Blood boiling springs to mind as I'd reported when I'd stopped work, they'd done everything they had to etc and £57 out of the blue and I didn't want this hanging over me (yes, I know but it doesn't matter to me how much it is, it's the fact that I didn't do anything wrong...I'm like that). Anyway, I immediately rang them to ask them what they were playing at. As an aside, I told them specifically to end any claim they had with me because I'd never work again and my daughter was now at uni. I noticed that they had an earnings figure from when I was working but commented, just because it mentioned on the form that I should tell them that the figure had changed, that this figure was way out and my income had decreased to £xxxx. In passing, the assistant told me that my overpayment should be cleared and that would be the end of it but it had to be made aware to me that I would now have to go through a full claim rigmarole if I wanted to claim again. No chance was my reply. Just close the claim down and I don't want to hear from you again. We even laughed about it!
Anyway, on return from my holiday on 3/7/2010, I was looking through my post and from the tax credits a letter. Must be my overpayment cleared confirmation. Nope, a notification that they paid me over £3000 for 2009/2010 and started paying for 2010/2011. What the ....? Rang them straight away on 03/07/2010 and after a little chat, discovered my claim hadn't been ended from 01/09/2009, when my daughter started uni. Now, I know morally that I'm not due to all that money but my only 'error' was reporting it late but when I reported it, I wasn't receiving any money from the tax credits and hadn't done so since June 2009. They admitted in a letter that during the phone conversation that I'd said on numerous occasions that my daughter was now at uni and to end my claim but, for some strange reason, all they keep concentrating on is the fact that I didn't meet my responsibility, by reporting the fact late, even though my reporting it late wasn't the cause of the overpayment. If I'd have reported it on time and the officer had taken the same action as he did on 17/10/2010, there would have still been an overpayment because the error was caused by not ending the claim. I have been told that they have upheld the 1st decision to say the overpayment stands and I'm just awaiting the confirmation letter so I can take this to the Adjudicator. When is an official error really an official error? They admit they didn't take action on my late report of a change of circumstances. They made a mistake and there's nothing that can hide that fact but they don't seem to take any responsibility for it. Everything they've done comes under maladministration (telling me they would end the claim but didn't...wrong advice. Not actioning information that I'd reported to them etc) They haven't met any of their responsibilites but accuse me of not meeting my responsibilities but the only responsibility I've missed is reporting a fact late but as I wasn't being paid at the time of reporting it late, that's a bit of a red herring.
Please could the experts on here (of which I'm very impressed with their knowledge) tell me where I stand. Do you think I'm being unreasonable and should just pay up (I don't have much of an income now but have kept this overpayment money to one side) or should I take this all the way!!!

Cheers

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missfroy2
Mod



298 Posts

Posted - 22/10/2010 :  12:28:50  Show Profile Send missfroy2 a Private Message
Some of the things in the post don't make sense to me. For example, you say you got WTC but didn't qualify for the child element because your income is too high. That isn't possible - if you get any working tax credit paid to you, you get full child tax credit because child tax credit isn't taken away until all WTC is taken away as income rises.

Secondly, you say you stopped working in December 2008 but that WTC didn't finish until June 2009.

Finally, you say your payments stopped in June 2009 - which is only a couple of months into 2009-2010.

It might therefore help if you could give the key dates in a time line including:

1. When did you receive your last tax credit payment (either WTC or CTC)? Is that June 2009?
2. When did you report your daughter leaving college?
3. Why did your payments stop in June 2009?
4. Did you receive a lump sum payment when you told them about the lower earnings?
5. Did your payments change in December 2008 when you told them you had stopped working?

MF2
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moonfleet
Rank; Hector Tax Inspector



United Kingdom
7 Posts

Posted - 22/10/2010 :  13:27:15  Show Profile Send moonfleet a Private Message
Hello missfroy2

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to reply to my post. I’m sorry I’m confusing you….I confuse myself with this sometimes lol.
I was in fact receiving child tax credit but like you say, my income was too high so I was receiving approx £550 per year. I received my final payment of CTC of £18.53 on 03/06/2009.

I didn’t actually report my daughter leaving college. (I wasn’t receiving any money from them so I didn’t tell them. As far as I was concerned, my last payment on 03/06/2009 was actually my last and that was the end of my dealings with the tax credit department! I told them she was at uni on my call of 17/06/2010....late but I was receiving no payment of tax credit on the date of the call.

I presumed my payments stopped in June 2009 due to my finishing work Dec 2008 and the amount of pay I received for 2008/2009.

Yes, I received a lump sum payment on 24/06/2010 which was arrears for 2009 and for the beginning of 2010/2011(although they should have only paid up to 31/08/2009 ie the call was made on 17/06/2010 and they paid the lump sum arrears (and overpayment amount) on 24/06/2010.

My payments decreased from April 2009 to my final payment in June 2009. There was no decrease from Dec 2008 to March 2009 from when I told them I’d finished work in Dec 2008. My payments went from £45.90 down to £20.86 Apr/£18.53 May and finally £18.53 June.

Thanks again for looking at this.
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missfroy2
Mod



298 Posts

Posted - 22/10/2010 :  13:59:09  Show Profile Send missfroy2 a Private Message
So you still have the lump sum payment given on the 24th June 2010? And is that lump sum equivalent to the overpayment?

MF2
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moonfleet
Rank; Hector Tax Inspector



United Kingdom
7 Posts

Posted - 22/10/2010 :  14:28:30  Show Profile Send moonfleet a Private Message
The lump sum paid on 24/06/2010 was £2963.04 of which £1898.05 was an overpayment for 2009/2010 and 2010/2011.....so I'm ahead and have the overpayment amount set to one side. That's why I said at the beginning that it's conscience v principles. I know I'm not due to that payment (overpayment) but them telling me I've done something wrong (not met my responsibilities) to get that money when, yes, I reported late that my daughter was at uni but considering I wasn't being paid anything at the time, I think the responsibility not being met in my case is a red herring and that's exactly what they're pinning their decision on. It's their mistake and nothing they do or say can hide that fact. If the officer had ended the claim correctly on 17/07/2010 then an overpayment wouldn't have occurred and it doesn't sit well with me that they're saying that I caused the overpayment when it's obvious that there was no overpayment until they ignored the facts, of which they've admitted, on my call of 17/06/2010.
Do I take this further as a matter of principle or do I pay up as a matter conscience? If I went further, would I have a good case? Hmmmm.
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moonfleet
Rank; Hector Tax Inspector



United Kingdom
7 Posts

Posted - 22/10/2010 :  14:33:49  Show Profile Send moonfleet a Private Message
Should read 17/06/2010 and not 17/07/2010
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missfroy2
Mod



298 Posts

Posted - 22/10/2010 :  20:31:06  Show Profile Send missfroy2 a Private Message
Ok, so have I got this right:

You were getting no tax credits. Then on 17th June 2010, you contacted them and as a result of that phone call you received a lump sum on 24th June 2010. Shortly after, on 3rd July, they said that they had overpaid you?

Is that right?

The lump sum appears to have been triggered when you told them about your lower income in the phone call. This will have triggered a re-calculation of 2009-2010. It would therefore follow that for this to be corrected they changed your income figure back .Is this what happened?

So first, you need to check the 2009-2010 notice that shows the overpayment. Is the income for 2009-2010 shown correctly on it now?

Even if they had ended the claim on 17th June, if you had mentioned the lower income, the recalculation of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 could still have happened as it was retrospective at that time.

I don't think it is clear cut who is at fault. I think it depends on:

1. What exactly was said during the phone call with regards to earnings and what led to them substituting the income figure and changing it back again.

2. Whether you got an award notice after the lump sum and told them the income figure was in fact wrong.

You could go down the route of disputing and point out that the responsibilities test in COP 26 is to be applied to the cause of the overpayment only and therefore if you failed in your responsibilities and it wasn't relevant to the overpayment it doesn't count. You should then say why you met your responsibilities and why they failed - in relation to the overpayment.

However, it sounds like HMRC may not have made a mistake either that relates to the overpayment. If that is the case, the overpayment will be recoverable. And the moral argument you mention is that you know you are not entitled to the money and knew that when it was paid.

But, the error wasn't caused by HMRC not ending the claim on 17th June. It sounds like the error was in fact the substitution for whatever income was on the renewal notice you received on 17/06/2010 with a lower figure, which triggered a payment and which was likely corrected later. That is based on my understanding that you didn't report your daughter at uni until 17th June 2010 is that right? And if it is, it is linked to the overpayment because if you had reported it on time, the claim would have been ended in September 2009 and although the overpayment would still have been caused by changing the income, it would have been far less as it would only have covered half of the year (from April 2009-Sept 2009)

Apologies if I have got any of the details wrong, it is difficult without seeing the paperwork and knowing what was said in the calls so treat this reply as a best guess.

MF2
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moonfleet
Rank; Hector Tax Inspector



United Kingdom
7 Posts

Posted - 22/10/2010 :  23:17:06  Show Profile Send moonfleet a Private Message
Phew….a few points to clear up there lol.

Yes, you’re correct in the 1st part. I hadn’t received anything since June 2009. My call on 17/06/2010 was to query an overpayment they said I had from a previous year. It was just a ‘by product’ that I mentioned re my daughter was at uni and that my income had decreased from tax year 2008/2009. I just wanted to close the claim and have nothing more to do with tax credits, which the assistant agreed to do. He had all the info in the call to end the claim from 01/09/2009 (the common end date for dependent children starting uni). I must have told him 5 times that my daughter was now at university! He entered in the lower earnings figure but forgot to enter the end date of 01/09/2009. A further call from me on 03/07/2010 prompted the correct action to be taken re entering the correct date to end the claim and all confirmed by them on tape. (I don’t have the tape but it’s confirmed by them in writing I.e. they didn‘t take the correct action on the information I gave them on 17/06/2010). If I hadn’t have mentioned re my daughter being at uni I would have paid the money back with no hesitation.

The lump sum was triggered by the call on 17/06/2010 and the final notification is showing the correct amounts. The award notices I received on 22/06/2010(in connection with my call on 17/06/2010 and containing the lump sum payments for 2009/2010 and part of 2010/2011) showed my correct earnings figure but still shows my daughter as a qualifying child ie they had changed my earnings figure but not ended the claim correctly. This is what triggered my call on 03/07/2010 to say that the award notices were incorrect. The final award notice received on 14/07/2010 (in connection with my call on 03/07/2010 to say that the award notices were incorrect) shows the correct award from 06/04/2009 to 31/08/2009 plus the amount overpaid.

I have pointed out to them that they have failed their responsibilities and have listed them one by one with explanations as to why they have not met them. I’ve told them also why I have met most of my responsibilities but as I said, they are only concentrating on the late reporting of my daughter starting uni, even though I wasn’t being paid and there was no overpayment until they muffed it up.

I agree that the error wasn’t caused by HMRC not ending the claim on 17/06/2010. It was caused by them not ending the claim on 01/09/2010 when they had the opportunity on 17/06/2010. Even though they’ve admitted that in writing, they still won’t accept responsibility for their mistake and concentrate everything on the late reporting of my daughter starting uni ie a missed responsibility. If I proceed with this I will need to, like you say, point out strongly to an independent, whether adjudicator, MP or ombudsman, that in my particular case, the late reporting of a fact, with tax credits not in payment, shouldn’t have led to an overpayment.

Anyway, thanks for your help. It’s been good to see someone else’s point of view who can grasp the situation. I have a dilema in knowing I’m not due the money but having to pay it back because of an official mistake. I’ve been looking around the site and a lot of people like yourself are doing stirling work to help people bogged down by the tax credits system and this ridiculous way of overpaying people. I worked for the Social Security for 25 years and overpayments had to be kept to an absolute minimum by checking, checking and more checking. You had all the right information then! Anyway, keep up the good work!

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missfroy2
Mod



298 Posts

Posted - 23/10/2010 :  08:51:03  Show Profile Send missfroy2 a Private Message
That makes much more sense now.

There are two ways to look at this - firstly in your favour - you gave them the correct info, they processed it wrongly, it led to the overpayment, you told them it was wrong within 30 days of getting the overpayment and therefore the whole thing should be written off under COP 26.

I suspect the HMRC way of looking at will be that if you had reported on time that your daughter had left uni, then when the earnings info was entered it would have been right and that if you had done that on time, their operator couldn't have made an error. The overpayment occurred because they paid you for the whole year based on your lower earnings when they should have only paid you for part of it.

As I say, i can see both arguments here. And certainly if you had received the money thinking it was correct and spent it and then been asked for it back I would certainly see why you would keep fighting but when you received the money and the notice you knew it was wrong immediately.

Did you give the exact date your daughter went to Uni? or did you just say she was at Uni?

They will go down the second route i'm sure, but if you want to keep disputing then you can. After dispute there will be the complaint stage and then the Adjudicator.

An alternative is to complain about the mistake and the costs you have incurred trying to put it right. I don't think there is doubt a mistake was made (providing you were clear her leave date was 1st Sept 2009 and not just that she had gone to Uni).

MF2
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moonfleet
Rank; Hector Tax Inspector



United Kingdom
7 Posts

Posted - 23/10/2010 :  10:19:23  Show Profile Send moonfleet a Private Message
Yes, spot on again missfroy2. I didn't say the exact date that she had started uni on my call of 17/06/2010. Part of my dispute letter was that as soon as I said that she had gone to uni, it should have been the trigger for the assistant to actually ask the date. I argued that if a customer gave details of a change, then the asststant should ask further details of the change. If somebody says they moved in with someone, they would ask the date they moved in. If I said my daughter was at uni, they should have asked when she started, even though they didn't need the exact date because ringing up on 17/06/2010 meant that the date would be a common date of 01/09/2009. Another way to stop the overpayment in this sort of case which I mentioned in the complaint letter eg checking CHB was still in payment (which they can do....but can't be bothered to do). They won't accept this as they want to push all the responsibility onto the customer ie overpayments will always be caused by the customer because the assistants don't have to check anything! This is part of the reason I want to push this further, to stop them taking the easy route and destroying peoples lives by paying them and then continually asking for the money back. It's a ridiculous system for the customer and the taxpayer. Maybe if I go far enough, someone will take notice. I think you're right about the route they're going down though ie if I'd have reported on time the changes etc but if I continue to run with this, I'm going to counter with but I didn't report on time but the fact was, there was no payment ongoing when I reported the changes and procedures should have been in place to handle this sort of thing. I could quite easily go down the maladministration route as they have got so much wrong, assuming my argument re the assistant should have asked me the date of change sticks. They certainly weren't impressed with that! I'll think about it. I've nothing to lose. It's just whether it's the right thing to do.

Cheers again

Edited by - moonfleet on 23/10/2010 15:10:54
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moonfleet
Rank; Hector Tax Inspector



United Kingdom
7 Posts

Posted - 10/12/2010 :  14:44:02  Show Profile Send moonfleet a Private Message
Just a quick update on my case. I received a 2nd letter from Tax Credits a little while ago to say that they had upheld their original decision but I could tell from the wording that they hadn't even looked at my case again. Can't go into too much but it was ridiculous to say the least. I wrote a 3rd letter requesting them to look at my case properly and that if they didn't I would use their letters as evidence that they weren't actually being fair in their decision. I was actually given a number to ring so that I could speak to someone directly who was dealing with my case! I rang him up and it was obvious that he was looking at it properly as he said now that it could go either way because of the rare circumstances of my case. The case had to be sent somewhere else for advice before a final decision could be made. Finally received a response today stating that the full overpayment for 2009/10 and 2010/11 had been written off. They admitted that they hadn't met any of their responsibilities but I had met all of my responsibilities (I reported a fact late but it shouldn't have led to an overpayment as no payment was ongoing at the time). The moral of my story is.....don't let them bully you into accepting you've done wrong when infact they haven't done their job properly. If you look at the maladministration aspect, you might just get the upperhand because that's what the Ombudsman will be looking at. If there are any flaws in their case then they won't want it to go that far. This is how ALL government departments work.
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Alan the Geordie
Admin



3032 Posts

Posted - 11/12/2010 :  14:27:13  Show Profile Send Alan the Geordie a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by moonfleet

Just a quick update on my case. I received a 2nd letter from Tax Credits a little while ago to say that they had upheld their original decision but I could tell from the wording that they hadn't even looked at my case again. Can't go into too much but it was ridiculous to say the least. I wrote a 3rd letter requesting them to look at my case properly and that if they didn't I would use their letters as evidence that they weren't actually being fair in their decision. I was actually given a number to ring so that I could speak to someone directly who was dealing with my case! I rang him up and it was obvious that he was looking at it properly as he said now that it could go either way because of the rare circumstances of my case. The case had to be sent somewhere else for advice before a final decision could be made. Finally received a response today stating that the full overpayment for 2009/10 and 2010/11 had been written off. They admitted that they hadn't met any of their responsibilities but I had met all of my responsibilities (I reported a fact late but it shouldn't have led to an overpayment as no payment was ongoing at the time). The moral of my story is.....don't let them bully you into accepting you've done wrong when infact they haven't done their job properly. If you look at the maladministration aspect, you might just get the upperhand because that's what the Ombudsman will be looking at. If there are any flaws in their case then they won't want it to go that far. This is how ALL government departments work.



Hi Moonfleet!

Many thanks for letting us know about your success!!

I have copied your post to the "Success" section.

"The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions.

In this way the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed."

Adolf Hitler
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