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Working Lunch Monday, 14 April, 2003, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Problems in getting hold of tax credits
Six million people qualify for the much heralded new tax credits, but many have yet to receive their payments which were due to start at the beginning of the tax year.

One Working Lunch viewer wrote to us with her story.

Early application

Holly Noseda and her partner got wind of the new tax credits well in advance - they had been receiving the previous version of them last year.

They applied for Child Tax Credit and Working Tax credit in February.

Things seemed to be going all right because they received an award letter a few weeks later saying that they'd receive 180 a month.

As it turned out, the letter was incorrect because their income had changed, but while the amounts were sorted out they were promised in writing that the regular payment would start on 10 April, 2003. But the money didn't come through.

Frustration

Holly feels let down and frustrated. Not least because her attempts to call the Inland Revenue have failed.

'We've been left with no money to pay the mortgage' says Holly

"The helpline is jammed, I can't find an email address and consequently feel completley powerless and broke," says Holly Noseda.

In last week's Budget the Chancellor Gordon Brown seemed happy that the tax credits were running smoothly.

But Holly is not the only one to be experiencing problems. And the delays are causing a lot of worry for families trying to make ends meet.

"Our tax credits have not been paid on time leaving us with no money to buy food or pay the mortgage" says Holly.

Another viewer, James Lang, waited on the phone for nearly an hour to find out why he hadn't been paid. And even then, didn't get an answer.

He wonders if the Inland Revenue will be fined for late payment like tax payers who don't get their tax returns in on time.

Sorry

The Inland Revenue has apologised for the delays. They've taken on extra staff to deal with the number of calls they're getting and claim that they'll now be able to respond to an additional 200,000 calls a week.

Luckily for Holly after a few phone calls from Working Lunch, she's now got her payments. But what about others who are waiting?

'Back staggering'

According to the Inland Revenue most people should receive their payments shortly.

Because of the large number of applicants, payments had to be 'backstaggered', that means that payments started early last week. But because of a computer error last week delays have occurred.

Emergency payments

If you're in extreme need and cannot wait any longer for the money, there is help. You can call into any Inland Revenue Enquiry Centre and Jobcentre Plus customers can go to their Jobcentre Plus office.

In the small minority of cases where a payment is due and has not been received, an emergency payment can be made by the local Inland Revenue office. But you must have received notification of your award to get this.

The number for the Revenue office can be found in your phone book.

The Inland Revenue say that over one million applicants have already been paid, and over three million award notices have already been issued.

So if you've applied, it's simply a question of waiting.

Reminder

If you've not already applied for the tax credits, remember that back payments will only be made for up to three months and to qualify, you need to have your application in by July.

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16 Apr 03 | Business
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