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Failure to inform Tax credit of my reduced childcare fees

(45 Posts)
dragonfly75 Fri 02-Nov-12 11:37:44

I am feeling desperate and would welcome any advice from anyone who has been in a similar situation to me or anyone who works for the tax credit system.

I received a letter today from Tax Credits saying that my award has been selected for review as the information they hold about my childcare costs conflicts with the information they have obtained. This is totally my fault as I have failed to inform them about my change in childcare arrangements; this was not done intentionally, it is down to my total lack of organisational skills and ability to prioratise!!

I Returned to work in April 2011 on a supply basis. Because my work was not regular, some weeks I would have work, some weeks I wouldn't, I has to give an average estimate of my child care cost, which I did. At the time, 2 of my children went to after school club and my youngest child went to nursery. I provided them with these details.

In September 2011, my 2 older children stopped going to after school club and my other child continued to go to nursery. In Januray 2012, my child obtained the nursery grant, so I no longer had to pay the fees.

Although I tried to call tax credits on a number of occasions to inform them of all these changes, I never got through at the times I called and even though I kept meaning to try and phone them to update them and it was always in the back of my mind, I eventually forgot. I know this sounds like a total excuse, but it is the truth, it is all down to a lack of organisation on my part. As a result I have been overpaid on my childcare fees.

I know I will have to repay the overpayments, but will I be prosecuted for failing to inform them of my changes? It says in the letter that any over payments will have to be repaid and in some circumstances a penalty will be charged. It then says that 'if we supsect you may have committed a criminal offence, we may carry out a criminal investigation, which could lead to prosecution'

I am beside myself with worry and didn't sleep at all last night. I know I am in the wrong for failing to be organised and informing them in a change of my circumstances, but I am an honest person, just a totally disorganised person!! How do they decide whether its criminal or not? I feel sick. There is no way I would intentially defraud the sysyem; I wouldn't risk loosing my children or loosing my career. Have any of you out there been in the same situation and if so, what was the outcome? I would appreciate any replies....

lisaro Fri 02-Nov-12 19:34:53

But you must have known you were being overpaid. Did you spend it or put it to one side? If you knew and spent it then I have absolutely no sympathy.

Bilbobagginstummy Fri 02-Nov-12 19:43:53

This page has the broad criteria for tax credit prosecutions (at the bottom):
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/things-go-wrong/complaints-appeals/fraud.htm

Forgetting to tell them about a change in circumstances isn't on the list.
It's on the list for getting charged a civil penalty, but you probably think that's good news in your current state of mind:
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/things-go-wrong/complaints-appeals/penalties.htm

Bilbobagginstummy Fri 02-Nov-12 19:44:36

With working links blush

This page has the broad criteria for tax credit prosecutions (at the bottom):
www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/things-go-wrong/complaints-appeals/fraud.htm

Forgetting to tell them about a change in circumstances isn't on the list.
It's on the list for getting charged a civil penalty, but you probably think that's good news in your current state of mind:
www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/things-go-wrong/complaints-appeals/penalties.htm

mignonette Fri 02-Nov-12 19:50:04

Dragonfly

Please try not to worry- you won't be prosecuted. They even state on the forms that if repayment causes hardship, they'll delay that too.

I have had to repay in the past because it is quite hard to estimate my income exactly being that I work a lot of on calls/ overtime etc as a senior RMN and DH is self employed. It took me a year to sort it out....

You will not be prosecuted for innocent mismanagement.

RedHelenB Fri 02-Nov-12 20:20:02

They did a review & tbh I haven't a clue how they worked out the hours!! They wanted all my bank statements, proof I was a single parent, childcare receipts the lot! Luckily I had marked down in my diary the days I worked but some weeks I did none & others 4 days.

dragonfly75 Sat 03-Nov-12 21:57:37

Lisaro, I am not expecting sympathy I have come onto this site to get advice off other people who have found themselves to be in the same situation. Luckily, most of the mums on this site are supportive and non-judgemental-what the site is all about.

Thank you so much Billbobagginstummy, this is a great link and extremenly helpful. I really appreciate your time in posting it on for me.

Mignonette, thank you too for your kind words.

RedHelenB-I have put some of the days I have worked in my diary, but not all of them, especially the ones when I get called on the morning last minute to go in.

I know one thing for sure, I will certainly be more organised from now on! I have spent the whole day tearing the house apart looking for payslips, invoices from nursery etc. If I was more organised, non of this would have happened!!!

Thanks again to the majority of you on here for you advice and supportve words, it means a lot.

dragonfly75 Sat 03-Nov-12 22:01:56

MrsMiniversCharlady, I hope so. After reading everyone's comments and the links they have put on for me I do feel more reassured. Thanks for commenting.

dragonfly75 Sat 03-Nov-12 22:03:25

Thanks gregssausagerolls, Fingers crossed it will work itself out

dragonfly75 Sat 03-Nov-12 22:06:23

Thanks for sharing your situation LynetteScavo, yours sounds a little bit similar to mine. Hopefully my situation will work out. I appreciate your comments.

EdithWeston Sat 03-Nov-12 22:07:58

Lots of people make mistakes. They only prosecute if they suspect deliberate fraud.

Fess up, agree a repayment schedule and the worst you'll get is a penalty charge, and if you're lucky not even that.

And the nursery will have your invoices even if you can't find them. Ask for duplicates, or a letter on headed paper stating their charges for the relevant period.

mignonette Sat 03-Nov-12 22:09:27

I didn't get a penalty charge despite late notification. I don't know of anybody who has amongst the people I know who have had to repay due to unpredictable earnings.

Athendof Sat 03-Nov-12 22:17:17

I had something similar, sent Ds to another child care supplier during the holidays and couldn't get through in the phone as it was at a time of the renewals. As I was still spending the same amount I thoughtit would be fine. It wasn't so I contacted every single provider I used and ask them for exact details if amounts paid, it turned out I had paid more than I reported to TC, i sent them all the details so they could see all the money had been used to pay childcare but accepted it was my mistake and was happy to pay back as long as it could be done in instalments. They charged me £10 and that was it.

I'm a bit concerned about this year, I calculated the average weekly cost as usual but I didn't expect that for the first time in years O was going to be allowed to take some time off during school holidays, therefore not paying some weeks of holiday clubs. I have rang the to adjust the new amount but have not received zny confirmation of the change. I am alteady worrying about it...

dragonfly75 Sat 03-Nov-12 23:05:44

Thanks all, I just wish they had a system where you could email any changes, it would make it so much easier. When you're working and the only time you can call is on a night or at weekends when the kids are under your feet it's difficult. I wouldn't be so daunting if they answered within a couple of minutes, but every time I tried to call I was on hold for about 20 minutes then had to leave it because the kids needed me. I did try several times, but never got through. I know I should have kept trying, but life gets in the way, then it just slipped my mind. Because you know you have to be on hold for ages before you get through, you almost have to put a space in your diary to make the call! Surely there should be someway that we can email any changes. May be we should start a campaign.

By the way, this is the first time I have ever used mumsnet and I'm not familiar with the jargon everyone is using. What does Dd and Ds stand for?????

elvisola Sat 03-Nov-12 23:11:29

Dear Daughter and Dear Son

lisad123 Sat 03-Nov-12 23:13:59

I called them when mine changed but they failed to put changes on and so overpaid with Childcare. They just took it all back over the year

dragonfly75 Sat 03-Nov-12 23:46:19

Athendof-hope you don't mind, but I have sent you a private message to ask a couple of things. If you don't get it let me know and I will re-send (when I tried to send it, it came up with a message with loads of symbols, so I'm not sure if it has sent correctly-it has done this with all the private messages I have sent.) Does it always do this? I'm new to this site, so not sure how thing work!!)

dragonfly75 Sat 03-Nov-12 23:47:52

Thanks elvisola, it makes sense now!!

lisad123-how did you proved you called to inform them? Did they have a record of the call, or did they just take your word for it?

Athendof Sun 04-Nov-12 18:11:21

I replied to the message, hope you have got it (but let me know uf you didn't and I'll send it again

dragonfly75 Sun 04-Nov-12 21:27:02

Thank you so much Athendof for your message I have sent you a message back

blushingm Sat 10-Nov-12 15:49:16

I had pretty much the same letter - is miscalculated and didn't notice my mistake . I ended up with an overpayment of £1800, they're just recovering it at about £100 pm. Not prosecuted as they believed it wasn't intentional

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