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Last Updated: Friday, 17 September, 2004, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
Have your say: Tax credit confusion
mother and child
Are you affected by these issues?

A series of Inland Revenue adverts have been causing confusion among the millions of people who receive tax credits.

Two million people need not apply for renewal, but the adverts do not make this clear.

Meanwhile, many households who have been overpaid tax credits are still unsure as to whether or not they will be pursued for the money.

Are you confused by the Revenue's adverts? Did you understand the forms you were sent?

Have you been overpaid tax credits? Have you already spent the money? Are you worried about being asked to pay it back?

If you would like to comment on any of these issues or perhaps have a personal story to tell, please send us you views using the e-mail form below:

I am a teacher with three children, aged 10, two and one. My husband is retired and stays at home to look after our children.

I have discovered recently that my tax credits are incorrect and that I have been overpaid. This came as a huge shock as we had contacted them on two occasions to inform them of my salary increase.

I was in tears on the telephone because I felt as though they thought I had deliberately defrauded them
Maureen Russell
They say they have no record of this and we have to pay it back. To reclaim their money they have reduced our payments, and at one point said they may want it paid back sooner.

Knowing that I informed them of any change in my circumstances, I was in tears on the telephone because I felt as though they thought I had deliberately defrauded them. I feel now that I am in debt.
Maureen Russell

Over the last two years I have had a number of changes to my circumstances. Each time I inform the Revenue. What I find ridiculous is that even though they have massively overpaid me they continue to readjust the payments and give me yet more money.

According to them I owe over 3000. And even though I always tell them of my change in circumstances they don't stop paying me.
Carol Davenport

I received child tax credits during 2003/2004, based on two incomes.

During that period I gained temporary employment for six months in addition to my permanent employment. I therefore earned more during that tax year and failed to notify the tax credit department.

My fear is that I will have to pay back the money. I have now gone back to the wage I was paid when I first put in a claim for child tax credit.

I have spent the money paid to me and am now in a situation where I cannot afford to pay it back. My circumstances will be changing in the few months, due to separation from my partner. I will therefore need to reapply for tax credit, but fear the worst.

Having been initially assessed as being entitled to nearly 600 for 2003/04, the Inland Revenue decided they had overpaid us by 560 for last year, even though this year they say we are entitled to 550.

Our circumstances have not changed. We have had to send two appeals as they lost the first and nearly four months later still have not had an explanation from them saying why our entitlement changed for last year.
Andrew and Nicola Doole

My wife and I have had all tax credits stopped as we have been "overpaid". When we queried this, the figures quote over the phone were not those supplied by us. I am heartened to hear on MB that one can appeal on Form TC 846, but I can find no trace of this on the Revenue's website. Is it just me?
Mike Ripley,

We have been grossly overpaid since the beginning and we have not dared to spend a penny of the credits, so the person for whom the money was intended to help has had no benefit whatever from them.

I have lost count of the number of forms we have had from them reviewing our situation. Every little change in our circumstances has to be reported to them in case we are accused of fraud.

Even if they say that we can keep the money, we will not dare to spend it in case they change their mind
I am thoroughly confused by it all.

My husband was recently made redundant, and during the same week, we got a letter from the tax credit office saying we owed them 2,500.

We have appealed against the over-payment, but even if they say that we can keep the money, we will not dare to spend it in case they change their mind. Why, why, why, did they change the old system to this ludicrous one. I wish we could just get out of this system and have nothing more to do with it.

We have recently been told we owe in excess of 900 in over-payments. This is despite a long history of contact with the Revenue to sort out errors made by them on entering our details.

Why does the Revenue need the information for PAYE employees with no complications? It already holds the information, and the mistakes it made would not have happened had it simply looked up our NI numbers for the details it required.

We are currently awaiting an answer to a form for reconsideration of the over-payment, as we are convinced we are repaying it through adjusted tax credit awards.

We have to do something. We cannot let them treat us like this. They have messed me about. It is a long, long story. Is there something we can do? The government seems to think it is all fine dandy. But it is not. People have lives to live. We cannot be treated like this.

How can the Inland Revenue justify itself? I do not know how they sleep at night. Why can we not just hand in our P60 at the end of every tax year. That will stop wrong payments.
Mrs Kerry Allcock

I was receiving income support up until 24 March 2004. I was determined to find a job, which I did, and the job centre did all my paperwork and organised for me to receive tax credits.

I have been relying on this tax credit to live on each week, as I am a single parent. I have now been told I owe tax credits of 900 and my tax credits have stopped.

The job centre had put through my claims as though I was not earning anything. In the meantime I have moved into a house with my son that I can no longer afford. I am in real trouble and will probably have to go back onto income support.
Amanda Arnold

Before I was made redundant I was not entitled to tax credits at all. The following year, when I had no income, I could not tax credit because entitlement is based on income for the previous year.

This tax year I am receiving tax credit but I am earning again and do not really need it.

The operator on the helpline did not have a clue what I was talking about
Chris G
The problem is that I cannot discover which tax year these payments actually belong to. Are they truly the payments I am entitled to for last year, or are they over-payments for this year?

If so, have I lost my entitlement for last year? None of the documentation answers these questions, and the operator on the helpline did not have a clue what I was talking about. Either way, the system is completely unhelpful for people whose circumstances change greatly.
Chris G

We have just applied to appeal against a working tax overpayment.

We were told by the Inland Revenue that if my wife worked 20 to 25 hours per week and I worked my permitted 10 hours per week this would be classed as 30 hours, and we would continue to receive our working tax credit.

This was in January. But we now face a bill in excess of 800. I am on benefits and my wife is presently in hospital and will not be back to work for some time due to her treatment for cancer.

This bill is of great concern, so it was good to hear the comments on Money Box today. Thank you!
Mr Richard Kellett

I misunderstood a section of my tax credit award information, and assumed that - as my daughter was continuing school to do A levels - I would not need to contact the tax credit office.

That was wrong. It is assumed that full-time education ceases at 16 after GCSEs.

I did not query anything until May this year when I learned that I was entitled to money from September 2003 to April 2004, but might not receive back-pay and would need to appeal.

This I did after a number of phone calls over May and June and enclosed a letter from my daughter's school advising she had been in full-time education since September 2003.

I have called every month since, and received several forms advising different information, causing further confusion.

I now have to write again to complain about the time taken to deal with a simple matter with no sign of any resolution to my appeal or application for 2004-05.

Why did the government change a system that worked, and I bet was a lot cheaper?
Sheena Beames

You may have saved me more than 300!

My original claim when child tax credits started was based on a year when I was self-employed; and that meant my child tax credit was based on a higher amount than I actually got.

I phoned to inform them of the correct amount and got a revised payment of approx 71 every four weeks.

I sent back the form which asked for details of my income for the last tax year and phoned when they asked for further information.

At that point it emerged they had the wrong dates for my self-employment which ceased when I took on the care of my grand-daughter.

When I got my entitlement form for the current year it had been cut to the standard amount.

I was told somewhat apologetically that they had made an error in applying the working credit taper, whatever that is. As a result I am to get no payments for a full year so that they can reclaim the money.

I did not realise I could appeal. I now shall.
Anne Celnick

I have a very good friend who has a severely disabled son. She is the most straight, honest person I know. She receives tax credits.

Recently she was concerned in case she was being paid too much. Because of her concerns she informed them of all her details, including a small farm inheritance in the future.

She was alarmed when she received a letter saying she was accused of being fraudulent. She had to attend a recorded interview where she was read her rights.

Eventually, although she could not afford it and was struggling with minimal money and children to support, she was fined.
Carrie Cunnington

I too have been told I have been overpaid tax credits to the tune of 3325. When I sought clarification from the helpline the figures I was given were different.

I am totally confused! I am receiving no payments now, the payments due going towards repaying the overpayment, but how long this will take to clear I do not know.

I have been advised that I can appeal against the overpayment but how successful this appeal will be I do not know.
Dinah Walker

After reading all the other comments I am amazed.

I have been receiving tax credits since April 2003 and have had no problems.

In my case the Inland Revenue has done its job very well indeed
When I contact them to tell them my change of circumstances it is dealt with straight away and I get a new award notice within seven days.

When I renewed my claim in April 2004 I had no problems getting through or doing it over the phone.

I believe this system is much better than the last one.

We usually only comment when things go wrong but I would like to say in my case the Inland Revenue has done its job very well indeed.

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Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published.

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.

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