HMRC demand £40,000 overpaid Child Tax Credit
We acted for a client who received a demand for almost £40,000 which HMRC claimed was an overpayment of Child Tax Credit. Our client had received the money after claiming as a single parent when she split up with her partner and father of her children. HMRC took the view that the couple were in fact living together as husband and wife and that she was not therefore entitled to the payments.
The evidence was complex and included documents showing a joint bank account and transactions which HMRC claimed were evidence of the couple being in a relationship. There was also a credit ratings report showing both at the same address. Our client instructed us privately on a fixed fee as no legal aid is available. Our benefits expert Laura O’Brien went through all the documents with a fine tooth comb. She traced payments and collected evidence to show that they were not living together. Comprehensive submissions were drafted on the law and facts of the case including reference to the important Commissioner’s Decision CIS/072/1994 which makes it clear that whether a couple are living together as man and wife depends on the individual circumstances of each case and that the denial of a relationship is strong evidence that they are not.
Laura represented our client at the Tribunal hearing when it was decided that our client had not been living with the father of her children as “husband and wife” and that the overpayment claimed did not have to be paid back to HMRC.
These overpayment cases are often complex and the chances of success are much improved with professional representation. It is wrong that people on low incomes are denied the right to such representation on legal aid.