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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Debt and return pursuit: tax credits overpayments: household breakdown cases: initial contact with a claimant and subsequent recovery action

Initial contact with a claimant in a household breakdown case

When contact is first made with a claimant (telephone call, letter or personal call) in a HHBD case, you should

  • advise the claimant that

    • they are only responsible for payment of half of the overpayment
    • they will not be asked to pay back more than half where their ex-partner does not pay their share of the debt or where their ex-partner’s whereabouts are unknown
    • if one of the claimants wishes to pay more than 50% this can be accepted without the need for agreement with the ex-partner
    • former partners may agree between themselves to vary the percentage that they each repay
    • if no offer is made, or a payment arrangement is no adhered to, we reserve the right to seek 50% from each of them
  • make it clear that the amount from each is 50% of the original overpayment, not necessarily 50% of the overpayment remaining following any payments on account
  • ask the claimant for their ex-partner’s address
  • confirm the claimant’s payment responsibility in writing. You should include details of any time to pay arrangement, ensure that only 50% (or other agreed share) of the overpayment is shown and that the ex-partner’s name and NINO are omitted
  • make a note in IDMS Action History and NTC Household Notes that the claimant has been advised that they are required to only repay 50%
  • move the case on to the next stage in IDMS for recovery from the other claimant (re-scheduled call, and so on) and, if contacted, proceed as above.

Note: The Debt Management TO in whose area claimant one (from IDMS) lives should continue to take responsibility for the conduct of the whole case.

Subsequent recovery action

You should

  • ensure that you issue all letters and demands manually and ask only for the amount for which each claimant is responsible
  • treat each claimant’s share of the overpayment as if it were effectively a separate debt. Time to pay, hardship, RLS, BY, mental health cases and so on should be applied, as appropriate, only to each claimant’s share of the debt
  • ensure that time to pay arrangements are monitored closely by periodically reviewing NTC ‘View Household Account - Postings’. This is important because all payments will be posted to the same record. Where possible, you should avoid a time to pay arrangement where both parties will be repaying the same amount on the same day. If there is any doubt about which claimant has made a particular payment you should ensure that the matter is resolved satisfactorily. NB: The IDMS Instalment Arrangement (IA) functionality does not allow arrangements to be set up for less than the total overpayment.

Note: The Tax Credit and IDMS systems will continue to reflect a joint record.

Section 29(3) warning

Before commencing enforcement proceedings, a claimant must have received a S29(3) warning.

From 6/4/09, the Notice to Pay (TC610), issued automatically by the NTC system, includes a S29(3) warning.

You will still need to issue a S29(3) Enforcement Warning Letter (EWL) for TC610s issued before 6/4/09. To establish the date of issue of the TC610, in the NTC system

  • select the screen for the relevant period from ‘View Overpayment’
  • click on ‘DETAILS’ and the date of issue will be shown in the ‘Notice To Pay’ section.


Normal criteria apply (DMBM725000) but please remember that the system will not allow partial remission for remission types

  • 1 (Gone Unknown)
  • 2 (Death. No estate and Bankruptcy)
  • 4 (NWFP)
  • 5A (Hardship)
  • 7 (Gone Abroad).