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 bigduckontax Your Own Question
bigduckontax, Accountant
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 4947
Type Your Tax Question Here...
bigduckontax is online now

Can anyone help with a tax credits tribunal case?

This answer was rated:

Can anyone help with a tax credits tribunal case?
Hello, I'm Keith and happy to help you with your question.
I have appeared before such tribunals in the past. Now before I can help I must know why your case has got to a hearing? Once I know this I should be in a position to assist further.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
In brief outline my husband was on a low wage that meant he wasn't working 16 hours a week in the eyes of the tax credits office. They have therefore taken away our entitlement to the childcare element of tax credit that they have been paying for the last year.

This means we are now liable to re-pay around £13k in tax credits that they claim we were not entitled to.

An 'earlier years update' has been completed and my husband's salary for the relevant tax year now shows him to have worked 16 hours a week. This however has not been accepted by the tax credits and they are basically saying we 'retrospectively amended income details purely to meet with the tax credit requirements'.

We no longer have the requirement for such a large childcare element claim but obviously would like to avoid paying back the £13k if at all possible.

Please can you advise if you would be able to help and I will give you further details.
To put it bluntly the Tax Credit Office (TCO) are saying that you are lying and producing new data like the proverbial rabbit from a hat. I regret that like most of HMRC they operate in the same Alice in Wonderland manner as the Queen of Hearts, 'Sentence first, verdict afterwards! Off with his head!'
So what to do? Well the first thing is, how did the TCO come to the conclusion that as your husband was on a low wage he wasn't working 16 hours a week? Simple, as the Mercat in the TV advert would say, they made assumptions, a very common HMRC approach, and they got it wrong as is so often the case. So the first point of defence before the tribunal is that your husband was working over 16 hours a week and thus entitled to the childcare element of tax credits. You should ensure if possible that you have third party written evidence to that effect eg wage slips showing hours worked for example to support your position.
From whence did the 'earlier years update' come? If it is from a third party source eg your husband's employer then frankly the TCO haven't a leg to stand on and can be shown to have acted in a very heavy handed manner.
That, with the data you have given is as far as I can go at this stage, but I do hope I have shown you a way forward. It would be helpful if you could brief a professional to plead your case before the tribunal, but I do appreciate that that costs in real terms!
bigduckontax and other Tax Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. We have sent evidence of updated wage slips following the earlier year update (formally completed by his employer) but they are refusing to accept them. I think we need to find a professional to help us ensure we present our case properly but it is good to hear what you are saying.

I have no idea what the cost would be but do think it would be a worthwhile investment to get our case heard properly and stand a good chance of winning.

Do you have any advice on where to find such a person, or what to search for in 'Google' to find the right type of adviser?

I would always recommend using a local, trusted professional, an accountant or a solicitor. Your local Citizen's Advice Bureau can quickly put you in touch with such an individual, indeed they will almost certainly have one on their books as an adviser who might take on your case for your husband. There is one problem though, you do not recover your costs from a tribunal so the outlay is lost, win or loose.
You must insist on the return of those wage slips, I trust copies were kept, for presentation to the tribunal. I am sure you can see how very convenient it would be should they have become 'mislaid' in the HMRC offices. HMRC's refusal position is frankly a typical 'try on' and will not survive sustained argument before a tribunal.
Please be so kind as to rate me before you leave the Just Answer site.
Thank ypu for your support.