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HMRC internal manual

Claimant Compliance Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Closing the Examination: Other factors with a bearing on the amount of the overpayment

Before you bring your examination to a conclusion you should consider any other factors which may have a bearing on the amount of tax credits overpaid. For example, you may be about to terminate the award because it was made by:

  • a single customer who was in fact a member of a couple at the time they made the claim
  • a single customer who subsequently failed to notify that a partner had moved in to the household
  • a couple who failed to notify that they split up during the year.

In all these circumstances, the new household unit may be entitled to make a claim for tax credits. If you consider that the individual or couple could make a new claim, you should advise them that subject to the new household’s level of income they may be able to receive further tax credits.

Where there has been a change in the household, and that change was not notified in time, the customer(s) may be time barred from claiming tax credits for the whole of the year.

Note: From 6 April 2012 backdating will be restricted to 31 days for new claims. Requests prior to the 6 April 2012 will still be entitled to 93 days backdating.


Janice claims tax credits for 20012/13 on 6/2/2012. An examination is opened on 17/7/2012, and Janice admits that she has been living with Clive since 2008. The award is terminated (with effect from 6/4/2012) on 15/9/2012, and tax credits overpaid are recovered. A penalty may be charged along with interest (for an incorrect claim).

The CCO advises Janice and Clive that they may, subject to the amount of their joint income, be able to make a joint claim for tax credits for 2012/13. Janice and Clive make a claim for 2012/13 on 1/10/2012, although they would have been able to claim from 6/4/2012 if they had made a joint claim within time. The claim made on 1/10/2012 can only be backdated to 31/8/2012. No tax credits are due for the period 6/4/2012 - 30/8/2012.

You should not be drawn into giving advice to customers on whether their income will be low enough to allow them to receive payments of tax credits, or on how much they might expect to receive. If asked, you should tell customers generally about eligibility rules related to their personal circumstances but if they want a detailed calculation of their likely award you should refer them to either the Tax Credits Helpline or the HMRC Tax Credit Internet site. You should not take any account in your settlement of any notional amounts of tax credit that you think the customer(s) might be entitled to if they make a valid claim. You should base your conclusions solely on the entitlement up to the date from which the award is terminated.