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New HMRC ploy against the self employed and separated parents?

Paula13th May 2012

I’ll freely admit I have no other sources of reference or comment on this, but after spending another couple of hours going through the latest emails, I’m seeing more and more evidence of a pattern in many new TC overpayment cases .

It started with the self employed and now includes claimants who have recently ended a relationship with the parent of their child. So, a lot of people, and two groups who you might not see a connection between just yet.

I’d say there are approximately 10 different types of TC overpayment cases overall, and over the years I have tended to see occasional gluts of one type or another suddenly turn up in little cycles against a background of older ongoing cases of all types.

Just after new year I started getting a glut of cases coming to me, all from people who were self employed plus claiming TC for the past few years, and had all now been told they did not meet the ‘work conditions’ (i.e. did not work enough hours to qualify) for one or several of those previous years. Therefore the award for that year was being withdrawn and the claimant now had an overpayment.

Straight away we challenged HMRC’s decisions re not meeting the work conditions, as without fail every one of the claimants said they had already proved to HMRC they had worked more hours, but that HMRC had disallowed some of hours with no explanation. Because this is a decision about entitlement, people can actually Appeal these cases (as opposed to Dispute) which was what we threaten to do if the decision weren’t overturned.

I was pleased but mildly suspicious when nearly all of the cases were very quickly dropped by HMRC (i.e. we won and HMRC reversed the overpayments).

Then the ‘separated parents’ cases started coming in. Each case is the same. HMRC have suddenly announced they believe the single claimant is (or was) living with their ex partner (as a couple) while claiming as single, all because of some arrangement to do with the children. Every one of the claimants who’ve contacted me completely defend their innocence and protest they have not been living with their ex. Each case involves some sort of semi complex (but life is) arrangement with the ex partner but none that should, or could reasonably, be seen as living together as a couple.

HMRC are telling the claimants they have to prove they were NOT, when actually the onus is on HMRC to prove they WERE. But then they are ignoring the reasonable and even concrete proof, the claimants supply. Again, as an entitlement decision, this is an appealable issue and so I instructed everyone to ‘apply to appeal’ (i.e. threaten to appeal).

I’m just starting to see some of the results back now, and again so far it seems HMRC are quick to drop the cases when they aren’t going to get a quick repayment out of bamboozling someone with threats, bills and jargon.

I am hearing of so many similar entitlement decision cases suddenly, that I can’t help but think this is a deliberate ploy by HMRC. Some ‘recession special’ attempt to claw back as much money as possible by exploiting personal complexities in the hope the claimants don’t know enough to appeal.

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There are 19 comments about “New HMRC ploy against the self employed and separated parents?”:

  1. Comment by Debra Boucher at 8:26 pm on 13th May 2012

    I was living in the same house as my ex, but the house was multi occupation,and I was renting my own room,and they insisted I was not initialed to TC single persons element. Now I have moved out and have my own place,they still insist we are a couple,and have even sent his mail here!! I haven’t seen him since last Jan????


  2. Comment by Chris Robinson at 9:24 pm on 15th May 2012

    The Tax Credits office like to drag up the past and re open cans of worms. I received a letter the other day after about 2 years. I thought it was all over. About being overpaid by 2 grand for 2004 – 2005 and 2005 – 2006. I got a 3 year old now and dont have time to go through it ALL OVER AGAIN. i am actually paying £5 a fortnight (under protest) but they dont seem to have it on their system. Yes I did tell em about every change they just neglected to record the phone call. I ordered transcripts of phone calls made. But it always seems the one that matters is the one they miss, and then tell mw I didn’t inform them. Tax Credits is supposed to reduce hardship isn’t it? Or have I got the wrong idea?


  3. Comment by Paula at 12:09 pm on 20th May 2012

    Debra – another shocking example of this ploy I mention. I know we’re already in touch, so we’ll not let them get away with this.

    Chris – a sick joke isn’t it. i do understand how draining this all is but i really do advise keeping on disputing. am sure i recognise your name too so drop me a line if i can help.



  4. Comment by single mum at 8:20 pm on 19th June 2012

    hey all iv just received a letter saying im being investigated because ive not informed them of a change of circumstances but i have they have no record of the calls so ive rang virgin media asking for a copy of all the bills in that period to prove that i did inform them but will a copy of a telephone bill back me up to prove i called or could they still deny as they are doing now ???? please help


  5. Comment by Paula at 12:32 pm on 26th June 2012

    Hi Single mum, a copy of telephone bills will certainly help. Its not unusal for HMRC to claim there ‘is no record of calls’, when actually they haven’t looked properly yet. if your bills show calls it will force HMRC to look through their own records again. it also helps show HMRC up as liars. Email me on if you would like to discuss your case further.


  6. Comment by Lynda at 9:43 am on 9th July 2012

    Out of the blue I am being hounded for 14000 overpayment as my ex is reg as living at what was my home adress. I gave told them he iwns the house and pays half the mortgage do I cannot sop him using this adress even though he has a girlfriend he will not admit to I earn 10500 a year cannot work full time. I sent in all requested into ive up my jbank statements bills etc but they will not listen I am now going to g


  7. Comment by Lisa at 10:47 pm on 9th July 2012

    I too have had this problem do not be blued they are just trying to up their recovery rate. If it is a joint mortgage of course he can use an address where he has financial interest. They will soon back down. How could they expect you to Psy money back you do not owe and do not have!


  8. Comment by Kim at 7:27 pm on 11th July 2012

    I hate tax credits!!!

    I was suffering from some stress/ mental health problems and separated from my husband for a year- we kept tax credits informed and at the time it looked to be permanent, so he claimed as a single claimant as I was not living with my kids and sadly not supporting them either.

    We decided to give it a go again this year and informed HMRC straight away- now I have to provide proof all of a sudden as we are being investigated!

    I hate this I don’t even know what to use as proof.


  9. Comment by Angela at 2:31 am on 15th July 2012

    I was with my boyfriend for 4 years and we were both staying with our parents. I found out I was expecting a baby and when she was born we were not ready to move in together. We got a joint mortgage and I moved into the flat with our daughter and he paid the mortgage as child support. We did keep seeing each other on and off for a bit and I ended up expecting again. We sold the flat and bought a house but he didnt move in due to me suffering badly from depression and anxiety. My kids are now 8 & 10 and he has never stayed here but uses this address as a billing address due to his father having the same name. I am now being investigated as we are finacially linked. I dont know what to do.


  10. Comment by Paula at 12:03 am on 17th July 2012

    Hiya all.

    Please do dispute all these types of cases. In fact if they are insisting you are part of a couple when you aren’t – you can Appeal (not just Dispute). Google ‘tax credit appeal form’ for the quick form to start the appeal or email me on

    Cheers P


  11. Comment by lynn at 12:47 pm on 18th July 2012

    I got a letter today saying that the credit agency said my husband whom i split with a few years back was down as living here,i never took him off the electoral role as he is living at different places so has no fixed address

    he also has his wages paid into our joint account still as he cant get his own account,

    any advice would be great thankyou


  12. Comment by Paula at 2:27 pm on 23rd July 2012

    hiya Lynn, this type of thing is becoming increasingly common. they seem to be doing address checks / credit checks on people and using that to stop TC awards.

    all this can be disputed / appealed if they are using the wrong info. please do email me so we can discuss the details in private.



  13. Comment by Lisa at 3:09 pm on 12th August 2012

    I had my baby few mth bk baby and he was in special care for a while, so never got round to ringing tc up, anyway he was 3 wk old wen i rang him n unfortunatley by this time i split with babys dad (had emergency hysterectomy same time as baby so took its toll on me)now they are investigating and i dont know what else to tell them other than the truth which i told them is personal to me but itold them anyways. How can i prove hes not living with me (his names still on mortgage, but all his bank letters bills ect are 2 his parents now) so he has no connection here other than mortgage n the kids :-/


  14. Comment by Paula at 12:54 pm on 20th August 2012

    if they decide not to believe you during their invesitgation you can APPEAL their decision. if its affecting your cuurent payments do get your MP involved to speed things up. email me for more info on


  15. Comment by nicki at 12:19 am on 16th September 2012

    Hi there. I received a letter fron tax credits stating my ex husband lives with me and he dont has hes own accomadation has no bills at my address tried ring a case worker on number given on top if letter i ring and it all it says is sorry cant leave a message good bye and cuts of got several ppl to try ringing and we all have same problem they have stopped my child tax credit payments i have wrote swveral letters ti them explaining telling them hes address and has nothing to do with the house i live in and dont contribute what so ever. I have recorded calls i made to sort this out with no avail been 4 weeks with no money and had to borrow money of family. The letter dated 3august 2012 i didnt get that till 17th august


  16. Comment by Louise at 3:22 pm on 18th September 2012

    Hmrc is claiming that i should be claiming as a couple instead of single my ex uses this address for letters only as he has no fixed aboad i dont no what to do as he has no address an there threat ing to stop my child tax for my daughter


  17. Comment by Paula at 4:43 pm on 21st September 2012

    please email me on


  18. Comment by Worried at 7:09 pm on 29th September 2012

    Same has happened to me – Have a shared mortgage with ex to keep roof over kids head and towards maintenence payment and he does use address as a postal address etc (seeing as it is half his house!) – we kept it all amicable rather than drag it through the courts and this was our best solution. Tax office have now told me I have to pay back over £10,000, I have limited money as it is and now I am worried sick how I am actually going to be able to pay this back.


  19. Comment by Beck at 7:53 pm on 3rd October 2012

    Please help I’ve got myself in a mess with tax credits don’t want to put it on here but culd really do with some help


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