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To think I shouldn't be responsible for this full debt?

(31 Posts)
AutomaticSteeple Thu 05-Oct-17 18:23:41

I have received a letter from HMRC regarding an over payment of tax credits from 4 years ago. This was an old claim with my ex husband, at the time my claim immediately changed to a single claim.Any apparent over payment would have been paid to him as the sole earner, I was a SAHM. I called tax credits saying surely I should only need to pay half the balance as it was a joint claim, they said no. They will chase us both for the full balance until it is clear, whoever first.

Ex dp has refused to pay anything towards it, so it's all left to me. Does anyone know what the law is on this? They have also requested the balance in full, nearly 1k.

Runningpear Thu 05-Oct-17 18:29:06

So what happens if you also refuse? From experience they do accept repayment plans so long as it's sensible.

SusanTheGentle Thu 05-Oct-17 18:31:32

I have no idea about this but is it something that you could try small claims court for him over? So pay it yourself to get rid if the debt then claim it back off him?

Gizmo79 Thu 05-Oct-17 18:34:00

If he doesn't pay then you are stuck with the whole debt.
Rubbish isn't it. Sorry.

MumsOnCrack Thu 05-Oct-17 18:36:25

I think the phrase is ‘jointly and severally liable’, so, yes, you are both equally responsible for the whole amount. It’s shite.

AutomaticSteeple Thu 05-Oct-17 18:37:25

I suppose if I refuse they will take further action, this scares me but it wont ex dp, he has got himself into huge debt since I left and is financially a mess. I have spoke to him and he says he can't pay and they will take him to court if they have to, except they wont if I pay it will they, seems very unfair but if I ignore it too who know what will happen. Seems like a ridiculous rule. I've recently been made unemployed so couldn't have happened a worse time

mynameisspam Thu 05-Oct-17 18:39:12

I had this, my ex was a bastard and wouldn’t take any responsibility for it although like yourself was a joint claim. I rang them and said the same as you, didn’t offer a payment plan at the time and after a week or so had a letter saying they would cut the debt in half if I rang by a certain date. I was paying £5 a week for well over 18 months.

MumsOnCrack Thu 05-Oct-17 18:41:13

My ex did this with our mortgage and then declared himself bankrupt so I had to pay the entire shortfall myself when the house was repossessed and sold at auction...it could be worse...

JaceLancs Thu 05-Oct-17 18:41:18

I had this too many years ago and had to pay it all back as ex DP wouldn't

Gizmo79 Thu 05-Oct-17 18:42:03

Just ring and offer the smallest amount, yes it will take a while to pay off, but it's interest free so at least it doesn't increase.
I got hammered in exactly the same way.

Migraleve Thu 05-Oct-17 18:42:47

Any apparent over payment would have been paid to him as the sole earner, I was a SAHM. I dont understand this? You had a joint claim, are you now saying he received all of the tax credits and his wage and you saw nothing of it?

sinceyouask Thu 05-Oct-17 18:45:19

There is a post on the rightsnet discussion forum which suggests that if you engage with them they will only pursue you for 50% of the debt. It's down near the bottom of this thread but as you'll see even welfare benefits advisers find the whole thing a bit of a minefield.

AutomaticSteeple Thu 05-Oct-17 18:45:58

Basically yes, he controlled the claims and incoming finances, I have no idea how an over payment occurred at all tbh. It seems the majority of the over payment is from his working tax credit. I am happy to pay half but I think it's very unfair to pay it all

PizzaPlease Thu 05-Oct-17 18:54:25

The same thing is happening to me right now. But instead of telling me he wouldn't pay he told me he had and I believed him, until I received another letter threatening debt collectors today. I'll probably have to clear the whole balance myself when I hate because I didn't see a penny in the first place, but it is what it is I guess.

AutomaticSteeple Thu 05-Oct-17 18:57:47

Thanks for that link. I think I will write to them and dispute it, offering half. Worth another shot.

Winebottle Thu 05-Oct-17 18:58:03

I don't know the specifics of the law but that sounds right to me. Joint and several liability, the lawyers call it.

If you make a joint claim, you are both responsible for it. What happens subsequently between you and you husband is irrelevant.

If you borrow money jointly, you don't borrow half each, the creditors can come knocking on the door of whoever signed the agreement for the full amount.

category12 Thu 05-Oct-17 19:01:09

Talk to them, tell them your circumstances and arrange a minimal repayment - if you just don't have the income, they'll accept whatever's reasonable. It's shit, but yes, you're liable.

Migraleve Thu 05-Oct-17 19:06:42

Basically yes, he controlled the claims and incoming finances, I have no idea how an over payment occurred at all tbh. It seems the majority of the over payment is from his working tax credit. I am happy to pay half but I think it's very unfair to pay it all. Unfortunately having a controlling husband doesn't absolve you of your 'joint and several' liability. It wasn't HIS working tax credit. Both the child tax credit and the working tax credit were on a joint claim. Assuming you and children were provided for (even if the money didn't go directly through you) then it is safe to say you did receive this money, or the benefits of it, and have no reason not to pay.

On a personal level it's shit that people can do this. I would offer a tenner a month!

Winebottle Thu 05-Oct-17 19:14:52

Its not about what's fair between you and your husband.

It is perfectly fair for the taxpayer that money that rightly belongs to the crown should be recovered from those who over claimed it.

The have a responsibility to recover as much as possible and that means pursuing those who have money rather than those who don't.

By all means try and get out of paying but I don't think you are justified in feeling they are treating you unfairly.

AutomaticSteeple Thu 05-Oct-17 19:16:16

I do agree I am liable but only for half of it. I don't see why they don't split it. What if we both paid it in full (imagine...) they would be paid twice. I have now read on the gingerbread website, that while they can ask for full payment they usually accept 50% from each if offered now, so I will write and see what happens.

MumsOnCrack Thu 05-Oct-17 19:17:52

You could pay your 50% and then he doesn’t pay his and you’ll still remain liable.

Migraleve Thu 05-Oct-17 19:22:53

What if we both paid it in full (imagine...) they would be paid twice

Rough guess, they would write you you both and refund the extra?

I have now read on the gingerbread website, that while they can ask for full payment they usually accept 50% from each if offered now, so I will write and see what happens.

But you said he won't pay 50%

Bombardier25966 Thu 05-Oct-17 19:25:17

A dispute isn't going to get you anywhere I'm afraid, your liability is set in law. A dispute would be appropriate if you felt the total amount was wrong.

AutomaticSteeple Thu 05-Oct-17 19:34:29

It says the following on gingerbread, that's why I thought it was worth writing to them.

If you have separated from a partner, it is worrying to receive a letter asking for
all of the overpayment and you might feel it is unfair that they are asking you for
the full amount.
You can still dispute or appeal the overpayment.
If you agree to pay the money back, you should contact HMRC to talk about
how much you will pay. They should only ask you for 50% of the overpayment
and should ask your ex-partner for the other 50%.

*Even though the law still allows HMRC to take back the whole overpayment
from just one of you, they now say that as long as you pay your part of the
overpayment as agreed (normally 50%), they won’t ask you for any more even if
your ex partner cannot be found or is unable to pay.*

HouseOfGingerbread Thu 05-Oct-17 20:09:55

This happened to me when I split with my ex.

I rang them, they split the overpayment in half, I set up instalments to pay my half. They pursued him for his half. They did get back in touch once thinking I still owed them but a quick phone call sorted it.

No idea whether he ever paid his half.

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