HMRC Tax and Benefits Service

Eight years fighting for client results in successful outcome
Advice NI continue to deliver our specialist, free, confidential and independent Tax and Benefits Advice Service to people across Northern Ireland who are struggling with issues relating to HMRC products and services.

The service focuses on HMRC/Tax related queries, such as Tax Credits, PAYE, Self-Assessment, Child Care Costs, Child Benefit and National Minimum Wage and works with a range partners in order to target and provide the service to those who need it most.

The below client story illustrates how the service has helped vulnerable clients achieve successful outcomes.


Client Story

Client attended an Advice NI Tax and Benefit Service outreach advice clinic in a stressed and anxious state.  Client was a lone parent with 3 children and was forced to move into a hostel because she had been having serious problems with tax credits and was repaying an overpayment that she was adamant she did not owe.  The client stated that her tax credits had been reduced further in January 2018 and this was what caused her financial hardship.  Client revealed that the issue stemmed back to the 2010-2011 tax year.

The client surmised that in the 2010-2011 tax year, HMRC had carried out a compliance check into her tax credit childcare costs.  HMRC terminated her childcare payments and she appealed the decision.  She provided all the evidence to show her childcare payments were correct and there was no error.  As her case was on appeal her childcare payments were suspended and finally when she presented to the appeal she won her case.  This meant that the payments should have been reinstated and she should have been paid back the money HMRC tax credits had suspended which amounted to £11,124.  Client then stated that her tax credits had stopped again in 2015-2016 and also in January 2018. Client was confused as to why she was repaying an overpayment of tax credits that she did not owe!

Adviser investigated the case and found that she had approached the Advice NI service in mid-2014 in which a first tier complaint was raised to the tax credits office.  The client and Advice NI received a letter in November 2014 from HMRC stating that they had carried out an investigation and they found that the £11,124 was not owed to the client as she had lost her right to reside and that the monies were related to an appeal process but was linked to a compliance investigation earlier in the year about her right to reside.  Client was notified of this and ended her engagement with Advice NI as she and Advice NI believed that that matter was investigated and all issues had been addressed and answered in full.

However during the interview with the client, the adviser asked the client about her work history from 2010 to present and found that an error may have occurred as the adviser could not ascertain how the client had lost her right to reside. Moreover the client insisted that she had won the appeal. The adviser telephoned tax credits and asked them to look at the client’s 2010-2011 award. At first HMRC tax credits stated that the 2010-2011 claim was balanced (meaning that no overpayment or underpayment existed). The adviser asked them to look at the appeal outcome and any notes on the system in relation to the £11,124. HMRC Tax Credits then  stated that there had been an appeal which the client had won and they needed to look into this further as there was £11,124 on the system but it looked like the system had suspended this payment and they needed to investigate why. After several correspondences with HMRC, a tax credits officer called the Advice NI adviser to explain that the form of authority for the £11,124 sum to be released was cleared but the action was never carried out.  

Adviser sent HMRC tax credits a Tier 2 complaint and received a call from the Complaints Officer who confirmed that the £11,124 was suspended and was now being released to the client.  Adviser asked the Complaints Officer how much tax credits was now owed the client as she had been repaying an overpayment.  Complaints Officer said that the client was not repaying the £11,124 (as this was not raised as an overpayment but had been mistakenly suspended).  Adviser asked the Complaints Officer to go over all the tax years from 2010 to present.  The Complaints Officer said that the client had gone through compliance checks in every year since 2010 and all had been checked and found to be correct except for the 2015-2016 tax year.  During this year there was an overpayment of £4,505 due to compliance activity and incorrect childcare costs that had been detected and that it was this amount which was being recovered from her present award which had caused her tax credits to reduce.  

As the adviser had examined the clients’ paperwork they discovered that all tax years except for the current year 2017- 2018, had been checked and were correct.   The adviser informed the Complaints Officer that she had a letter addressed to the client from tax credits compliance team for the 2015-2016 tax year stating that they were satisfied with the checks and they did NOT need to amend her award, which meant that the £4,505 which the client was paying back was owed to her.  After agreeing to investigate this, the Complaints Officer confirmed that the compliance check carried out in 2015-2016 was indeed correct and that tax credits had made another mistake and had been recovering an overpayment that did not exist.  However as the current compliance check carried out in January 2018 had found ‘a childcare costs error’ and raised yet another overpayment, the £4,505 that the client had repaid was offset against the current overpayment which resulted in the client having no overpayments at present and her tax credits entitlement were now being paid in full.


Outcome

Client has received a lump sum payment amounting to £11,124.

Adviser is now in the process of sending a Mandatory Reconsideration to HMRC tax credits for the current tax year and is confident that this will be successful , which means that the £4,505 which the client has repaid will be returned to her along with any other monies she will be owed when the Mandatory Reconsideration is complete. 

HMRC have also agreed to compensate the client £100. 

The client was very pleased with the outcome so far and is currently looking for a new home to provide a safe environment for her and her children.


Tax and Benefits Service

The aim of the Tax and Benefits Service is to work with closely with HMRC and other key stakeholders to ensure that errors made are challenged and that clients are accessing their full entitlements and are aware of their tax responsibilities.

The service can be contacted by Freephone 0800 9882377 or by emailing tax@adviceni.net

Please feel free to contact arfawn@adviceni.net should you require more information on this service.