How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Ash Your Own Question
Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
75100385
Type Your Law Question Here...
Ash is online now

Customs and excise. My granddaughter Laurie aged 15 came to

Customer Question

Customs and excise. My granddaughter Laurie aged 15 came to stay with me April 2013, for 9 months. I claimed child benefit for her in order to apply for free school meals. My daughter (her mother) continued to claim child tax credits for Laurie. Laurie went home to her mother at weekends and during school holidays. Then in January she went back to her mothers for good. She has now been arrested, and is on police bail for criminal damage (at her mothers house) and threats to kill (another 15 year old girl). The police released her in to the care of the local authority, Birmingham. My daughter has had a letter from customs and excise saying she is under investigation because she continued to claim the tax credits and didn't report a change in circumstances. I am on ESA benefit myself and my daughter passed on the tax credits she received for Laurie to me, for her upkeep, food, clothing travel etc. My daughter explained this to customs and excise on the phone today but they said that it didn't matter what she spent the money on. They have asked for proof that she went to school here, local to me and was registered at the doctors. Also for proof of when she returned to her mother. It was never a proper formal arrangement and nobody knew how long it would last. My daughter never had any intention of committing fraud or deception. She is on benefits and so am I. As we shared the care of my granddaughter, one of us had to claim the tax credits and it seemed sensible for it to be my daughter, as she was already in receipt of them. She is now so worried of being prosecuted that she is unable to even speak to me about it on the phone. Can you please advise?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
Hello my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. There is no need to wait here, you will get an email when I reply.

Have they said how much the overpayment is?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No, I don't think so. Not certain if they have or not, sorry.

Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
Ok - why didnt she declare the change?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Mainly because we were not sure how long Laurie would be with me. She is a "challenging" child. She was hurting her 10 year old brother and 5 year old sister. My daughter, Amy, asked for help from social serviced but received none. Laurie was making Amy a nervous wreck and she felt she could not protect the other children from her. She brought Laurie to me on speck one day, as she couldn't cope with her any more. It was never arranged properly, never formal and none of us knew how long it would last. It was, and still is a time of turmoil for us all. She left here as suddenly as she came.

Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
Ok - the chances are there is an overpayment. This is because she is under a duty to declare ANY chance in circumstances. Then you could have made a claim for the tax credit.

But sadly there should be a declaration for any change. If they find an overpayment it can be appealed. It would go before a Tribunal who will decide whether or not the overpayment is valid - that is a free service.

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Alex
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. XXXXX may just ask you something else? You don't think it could be argued that we shared care and as one of us had to claim for her, no overpayment was made? After all, Laurie was entitled to the tax credits?


 


Also, in your experience, do you think it is likely that they will prosecute my daughter? Or, just ask her to repay the money? I realise you can't know this, but what is the likelihood?

Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
If she informed HMRC of this there may not be an issue, but I am guessing they did not.

They could prosecute depending on the amount, ie if very large. But usually they just ask for repayment.

Alex

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. Last couple of questions Alex. I imagine its about £30 or £35 a week for 9 months, so, around £1200. Would they consider that large? I have no idea what they think of as a lot. And should she get a solicitor, do they do legal aid for cases such as this?

Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
No, £1200 isn't large.

Anything over £5000 is.

You dont need a Solicitor at this stage.

Alex

Ash and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you I really appreciate your time.

Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
If this answers your question could I invite you leave feedback on my service which I hope has been excellent today, if you need more information or help then please click reply.

Please remember that I am always happy to help if you have future questions, even if I am in Court I can normally respond within a few hours. For future information, please start them with ‘For Alex W’.

Please bookmark my profile if you wish for future help: http://www.justanswer.co.uk/law/expert-alexwatts/