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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: country court proceedings: the defendant’s response to the claim: defences in tax credit overpayment cases


Tax credit overpayments do not come within the scope of the practice direction to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPRPD7D) (see DMBM665800).

That guidance points you to making an application for summary judgment for cases where CPRPD7D does not apply, but you should not do so for tax credit overpayment cases unless the court specifically order you to do so.

Court action

Where a defence is received, the court will:

  • send you a directions questionnaire for completion (or ask you to download the relevant form from the Form Finder page of the Courts and Tribunal Service’s website to complete) and a copy of the defence at the same time
  • allocate the case to a ‘track’, according to the value of the case (see below).
Value of case Allocated to Directions questionnaire
Up to and including £10,000 Small claims track Form N180
Over £10,000 but not more than £25,000 Fast track Form N181
Over £25,000 Multi track Form N181

DTO action

You should complete the directions questionnaire and attach your reply to the defence to it, together with certificates of debt and file all the documents with the court at the same time in accordance with CPR15.8.

In your reply to the defence you should ask for any amount admitted to be paid. You should ensure that you serve the defendant with a complete set of the documents filed with the court.


According to the track the case is allocated to, a fee is sometimes payable on filing the directions questionnaire. Details of the fee to be paid is shown in the following table

Track Fee
Small claims track (£1,500 or less) Nil
Small claims track (more than £1,500) £40
Fast track claims £220
Multi track claims £220

Certificates of debt

Although tax credit overpayments do not come within the scope of CPRPD7D, the court should accept certificates of debt produced under Section 25A Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 as evidence of non-payment in the same way as for other debts due to HMRC.

If the ability to produce certificates of debt as evidence of non-payment is questioned, you must be prepared to explain the following:

Section 29(3) Tax Credits Act 2002 says “Where a notice states that this subsection applies in relation to an amount (or part of an amount), it is to be treated for the purpose of Part 6 of the Taxes Management Act 1970 (c9) (collection and recovery) as if it were tax charged in an assessment and due and payable by the person or persons to whom the notice was given at the end of the period of thirty days beginning with the day on which the notice is given.”

Section 66(1) Taxes Management Act 1970 (which falls within Part 6) says “Tax due and payable…..may, in England and Wales,…..without prejudice to any other remedy, be sued for and recovered from the person charged therewith as a debt due to the Crown by proceedings in a county court.”

Section 25A(1) Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 (inserted with effect from 21 July 2008 by Section 138 Finance Act 2008) states “A certificate of an officer of Revenue and Customs that, to the best of that officer’s knowledge and belief, a relevant sum has not been paid is sufficient evidence that the sum mentioned in the certificate is unpaid.”

Section 25A(3) Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 says “Any document purporting to be such a certificate shall be treated as if it were such a certificate until the contrary is proved.”

Thus a certificate of debt is sufficient evidence that the sum mentioned in the certificate is unpaid.

Court hearing

The court will set the case down for a hearing which you should attend, taking a copy of the reply to the defence and certificates of debt with you and prove your case.

You should ask for any fee that has been paid for filing the directions questionnaire to be included in the judgment. However, you should bear in mind that under the track procedures, the district judge is more likely to make an order for the exchange of witness statements and to set another hearing date than to dispose of the case (enter judgment) at the first hearing.

If the district judge does not agree to include the directions questionnaire fee in the judgment, you should:

  • accept the decision
  • write off the fee.

Small claims track

If the party who paid the hearing fee notifies the court at least seven days before the hearing that the claim has been settled or discontinued, the hearing fee will be refunded in full.