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HMRC internal manual

Tax Credits Technical Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Decision Making: Revised decisions, considering evidence and recording of decisions: Household Breakdown

A household breakdown (HHBD) or formation occurs:

  • at the point at which a person could no longer make a single claim or a couple could no longer make a joint claim, due to the breakdown or formation of a household, or
  • in the case of a polygamous household where the number of / or the persons who comprise a polygamous unit changes see TCTM06100 for more information on polygamous households

This is covered under s3 of the Tax Credits Act (TCA) at TCTM12000

The date at which a HHBD occurs can sometimes be difficult to decide, but it should be at the point that a single person considers themselves to have a partner (who they are living with as if they are married or in a civil partnership) or in the case of a couple when they consider themselves to have separated (under a court order or in circumstances that are likely to be permanent). Geography is only one part of a decision whether a separation is permanent or not.

The legal definition of a couple is held at s3(5A) of the TCA and is reproduced below:

In this Part “couple” means -

(a) a man and a woman who are married to each other and are neither -

(i) separated under a court order, nor

(ii) separated in circumstances in which the separation is likely to be permanent,

(b) a man and woman who are not married to each other but are living together as husband and wife,

(c) two people of the same sex who are civil partners of each other and are neither -

(i) separated under a court order, nor

(ii) separated in circumstances in which the separation is likely to be permanent, or

(d) two people of the same sex who are not civil partners of each other but are living together as if they were civil partners.

Note: Legislation allowing same sex marriage in England & Wales (Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013), and in Scotland (Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014) changed the way in which existing legislation is interpreted by extending the definition of ‘marriage’. The effect is that when legislation refers to “marriage” this means marriage between a man and a woman, and between same sex couples.