Our Child Tax Credit Nightmare

4 months old and Lucas is the victim of a government data security breach

Warning: what follows may be of little interest unless you’re involved in the workings of the excellent U.K. tax credit system. 

Both my partner and myself received fantastic letters from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs this morning, to notify us that they were stopping paying us the zero tax credits that they’ve been paying us for the last couple of years. Yes, that’s right, two letters to let us know we weren’t going to receive anything when we already hadn’t been receiving anything for the last few years.

This is just one in a series of mess ups we’ve seen from the HMRC in our saga, which has been going on for the best part of 3 years, since our daughter (our second child) was born.

When she arrived, we notified the HMRC of the situation, and eventually they came back saying that we owed them a couple of hundred quid for some reason, which we disputed. And this dispute went on and on, largely because communicating with them was such a pain – call centers couldn’t answer straight questions, you’d ask for a call back from a supervisor and never get the call. This went on for weeks, eventually we resorted to writing letters, but this still failed to resolve the problem.

At this point, we decided (in hindsight, a bad decision), to give up on it, as we thought back then that it wasn’t worth the hassle for a few extra quid.

A couple of weeks ago, we started to wonder whether we were missing out by not claiming any Child Tax Credits that we could still be entitled to – we both work and pay our taxes, and whilst a couple of years ago we thought we could do without it, given the hassle we were getting claiming it, right now every penny counts to us, so why shouldn’t we claim what we are entitled to? 

So once again we approached the HMRC to see if the situation had changed and if we could get it sorted out. We submitted some more information, and awaited a reply. I thought they may come back and say we owed them money, which, although we still dispute that we owe them anything, I was now willing to pay, if I knew it would mean we’d make it back over the months we were receiving the tax credits. 

Which brings us to today’s letters, telling us that we no longer qualify for the credits that they weren’t paying to us anyway.

I still feel in the dark about the whole situation – are we simply not entitled to anything? I’d admit that I need to do some more  research to find this out, as it has been my partner who has really been looking after this problem, but I suspect that even if we are entitled to them, it will still be a pain to sort out.

It’s also frustrating not knowing where to turn to next, if we are indeed still entitled to the tax credits. We’ve tried phoning , writing etc., so what’s the next step? This is really what stopped us pursuing the claim in the past, but times have changed and now we’re more eager to get all we’re entitled to. I’m not too concerned if we can’t reclaim anything we may have been entitled to in the last 3 years, as it was our decision to give up chasing it, but going forward, it would be good to get the money we should have, given our contributions to the tax man.

In some ways I think we were stupid to drop the claim when we did, but 3 years down the line, we are entitled to change our minds, aren’t we? And with the government seemingly promising tax payer’s money to bail out people left right and center, I’m eager to get more for my family.

I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has had similar experiences with the tax credit system, and what the outcome was? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Larsz

9 thoughts on “Our Child Tax Credit Nightmare

  1. I once dealt with a mortgage case where the wife was receiving lots of tax credits and benefits. The useful tax people had made a real mess of the payments, and accidentally been paying them about £10,000 a year in benefits which they should not have been entitled to.

    This came to light as the mortgage application based it’s income calculation on the benefits as well as the earned income. It was during the mortgage processing by the lender that someone (more clued up than me about benefits) noticed that the earned income was £17,000, which is higher than the threshold for Working Famillies Tax Credits, and thus the application didn’t proceed.

  2. Have you checked the calculator at https://www.taxcredits.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/Qualify/DIQHousehold.aspx ?

    The qualification largely depends on your joint income level and the number of children you have. If your combined income is over 30k then you’re probably not entitled to anything.

    I’ve had my own horror stories with both child tax credit and working tax credit claims. And yes, I’ve received letters saying “Your annual award has changed from £0.00 last year to £0.00 this year.” What a waste of money and paper!

  3. I have had so much trouble from these people after having my 2nd child, i thought i got it sorted to get a letter this morning saying i own them 2517 im still trying to sort it out and seeing a solicitor cuz child tax has bad communication.

  4. My son is now 1yrs old and we have just sent off the form for the end of the tax year.
    Since then we have found out that you can claim Child and working tax credit.
    Working tax credit applies to those who work at least 16hrs a week and if part of a couple, earn no more than £50k between you.

    I also heard about all these people owing money……because when you first fill in the form, they dont ask your income?
    So you receive money for a whole year without a thought until you have to send off the form at the end of tax year.
    I assume if your still employed when you send yours, they go on the previous years tax.
    I left my job, so im hoping i dont owe anything!

    Good luck ladies :0)

  5. Look up http://www.taxcc.org.uk It is a comprehensive site dedicated to tax credit cock ups and overpayments arising from ‘non- fraudulent’ errors. It’s run by volunteers and fellow ‘tax credit casualties’. Follow the links and find out how to dispute, how to retrieve your data that hmrc have on file (and by law are obliged to give you if you ask) and how to get your mp involved. There are template letters for all sorts of situations and forums so you can ask particular questions (or just vent- as we all need to do at some point)

  6. well i have to say that our situation makes that look like a walk in the park.we were told we had been overpaid £6,500 we disputed this and it was dropped to 3,000ish.then we were told we had no children even though we were still being paid,then realised they had put all our payments onto 1 tax year so it ends up that they owe us 2,500 but we gonna have to wait cos they can’t give us a timescale for dealing with it.i had cancer and am disabled but they still won’t hurry up,have just got to point where we are involving our mp ,but won’t hold our breath!!!!

  7. We have been contacting the child tax credit office for the last two years informing them of the birth of our second son and they keep saying they have his details on the system, but havent added him on, nor have we been paid anything for him! We too have just had a letter now saying we will get nothing for our child (of which they say we only have one!) and that we owe them a lot of money now! They are totally useless!!! This is a good amount of money we are missing out on, and I am sure they will be quick to chase the money they say we owe them, but I cant see it working the same way with the money they have owed us for two years now!

  8. Tanya 26 august 2010

    iv been claiming tax credits for the past 2 years i have never once recieved any awards off the child tax credits nor letters i really need my award letter as i need to send it off somewhere urgantly im getting tiered of calling them up and being put on hold for hours on end and them turning round to say we will send another one out even though they have said this a hundred times before and iv never recieved anything off them. they have confirmed my address to be the right address loads of times i have even been to my local sorting office to see if they have any letters from the tax office for me there. I know its not the postman because its every single letter off the tax office im not recieving. i even went to my local inland revenue to see if i can get a print out there they told me you will have to speak to the tax office over the phone we cannot help im so stressed out with this whole situation i dont know what else i can do.

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