Crazy tax credit demands

A long time ago, child tax credit actually used to be a tax credit so for most people the amounts paid were automatically adjusted in line with their pay. Then Gordon Brown stepped in, renamed it and changed how it worked so that it became a benefit payment instead but still with a “tax credit” name.

So now, as with all benefit payments, you have to declare the amount of your income and they pay the child tax credit for this year in line with your income for last year. Snag is that you have to declare the income for tax credit purposes months before you need to declare it for tax purposes and if there’s any significant discrepancy, as we found out, the compliance department stop your payments. Except in our case, there wasn’t a discrepancy, it was just that we hadn’t completed our tax return before putting in the tax credit renewal.

Anyway, months later, when we put in the tax return, waited ’til it went to the tax credit people, called them to remind them, the back payment of several thousand pounds turned up and the regular payments restarted. Mind you, it had gone through six or seven people in the tax credit offices to get to that point.

However, several months after that, we received another missive from yet another person in the compliance department who’d just started working for the department a matter of weeks earlier and announced that the thousands of pounds we’d been paid had been paid incorrectly and we need to pay it all back. We, of course, appealed that or rather put the appeal in as they seem not to have bothered about it and now they’re looking for the money back. Well, assuming that a rather inexperienced clerk is correct and the six or seven much more experienced people are wrong.

Helpfully, all the local tax enquiry offices were closed down on June 30th and, as the remnant of the reception said, lots of people have found that it’s pretty much impossible to get through to the telephone enquiry services.

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