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Working Lunch Monday, 9 June, 2003, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Tax credits: Your response
Pay Master General Dawn Primarolo
Dawn Primarolo says scheme is a "success"
Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo insisted on Thursday's programme that the introduction of Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit in April had been a "success".

The new system replaces Working Families' Tax Credit, which many families relied upon to make ends meet.

Not surprisingly many of you had something to say about the Minister's comments:

Chris Watson said: "Typical of a politician... evasive - blame everyone else."

Eva Speak says: "I've been told by the Inland Revenue I have no qualifying children, yet one is sitting here with me. But I still have no money."

Carole Crickmore suggests: "How about not giving Dawn Primarolo a pay cheque until this tax credit mess is sorted."

Pravin Patel: "I have a five-month baby, two other children and a partner to support. We are now seriously struggling to make ends meet."

Luckily for us, Working Lunch's Simon Gompertz has been getting to the bottom of some of your more specific queries that the Minister wasn't able to answer.

Mark Halliwell and his wife had a baby back in January and they've been trying to claim a Maternity Grant.

Mark says that they can't get it because their tax credit hasn't come through. What can they do?

Working tax credit is a passport to Surestart maternity grants.

This maternity grant is worth 500 if you have a baby, but you have to claim it within three months of the baby's birth.

Because their tax credit information has not come through they've been given a month's extension on this deadline by their tax office.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Inland Revenue say the important thing is to claim the benefit within 3 months. So make the application now.

It might take longer to get the payment because of the delays with tax credits but atleast you will get it if you apply within the time limit.

A new IR leaflet providing information and giving contact points for details on some of the more common benefits is published on the IR website and is available from your local tax office.

Andrew Goodall, a tax adviser, complains about newspaper ads saying: "Claim by 5 July even if you think your income is too high or you're just not sure".

He's wondering how the already hard-pressed Revenue staff are going to cope with a rush of claims and thinks the government should extend the limit.

The Inland Revenue tells us that both the Child Tax Credit and Working Tax credit are back datable for a maximum of three months.

These are tax credits, not allowances, so to avoid missing out, you need to put in your claim before 5 July.

The Revenue is encouraging claims from those at the upper end of the earnings limit just in case they might qualify or their circumstances change at a later date.

This is especially important for those on a fluctuating income or are self-employed.

The system, according to the Revenue, is designed to respond quickly to changes that people experience.

If the campaign is succesful this could mean there's a big rush, causing more chaos, but this is the deadline, and it's important not to miss it.

Alistair Simms asks whether the system is set up so that adjustments can be made at the easily at end of each tax year.

Or could the whole mess this year be repeated, again next year?

We've some good news on this one.

The Inland Revenue has told us that the system will already have the claimants details so most claimants should only need to confirm their income details or changes to their circumstances.

It will not be neccessary to re-apply and go through the whole process again next year.

And it's only if your income increases by more than 2,500 that you have to notify the IR for the current year.

You would have to notify the Revenue of the change for next year, but there would be no clawback of tax credit for this year.

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