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Claiming tax credits - bills still in ex name?

(14 Posts)
sittingupstraight Sat 07-Feb-15 19:58:15

Hi, I've posted this in money but I'm hoping some of you kind lot might be able to shed some light on this for me.

Basically, I've been a LP since last July, ex-H moved out to live nearby and I'm on a low income, around £12k a year. I've been surviving financially through a mix of working part-time, living very cheaply and having lodgers. I have a 3 year old DS.

Ex-H have cobbled together a sort of informal financial agreement that involves him paying our (biggish) mortgage, me paying his rent from the lodger income, him paying gas, electricity and water, and me paying council tax, tv, broadband etc. We no longer have a joint account, he just sorts out his bit and I do mine. I didn't want to put all the bills in his name as I know he won't give me the money back. I've agreed not to ask him for maintenance until we sell our house as he's paying all the mortgage.

My question is: I'm really struggling financially now and as I'm entitled to WTC and TC, I'd like to put in a claim. But I'm worried as some of the bills are still in his name. Will this invalidate my claim? Will they know? Do I need to tell them? I can provide a copy of his tenancy, he pays council tax in his new place and most of his post goes to his new address - we are clearly no longer a couple.

My original plan was to wait until we sell our house, I move into a new rented place and then put my claim in as it will be pretty straightforward (I hope), so maybe I'm better off waiting to do this. I hear horror stories of being slapped with a massive TC overpayment bill and I can't really face that.

Has anybody been in this situation?


MadameJosephine Sat 07-Feb-15 20:17:46

I have no personal experience but surely as he is your ex any money he pays towards your bills would count as maintenance even if that's not what you call it yourselves so if you declare it as such on your application it won't affect your claim? Hopefully somebody will be along soon who knows for sure but it seems to make sense to me, your claim is based on your income not your bills and any 'maintenance' from your ex shouldn't count as income

Fairylea Sat 07-Feb-15 20:21:07

You need to make sure all the bills are in your name and you use the maintenance to pay them. This is because otherwise tax credits may see you as still part of a couple - and then deduct tax credits accordingly. You need to make it absolutely clear the relationship is over and you are living entirely separately and managing financially separately.

clare8allthepies Sat 07-Feb-15 20:23:31

You can claim as a single person from the day you consider your relationship to be ended BUT for the last few years they have been investigating single claims where credit references show links to more than 1 adult in a property. It's great that you have come to an amicable agreement with your ex but it's not usual for most separated couples to have household bills paid by their ex partner.
If you can change the household bills to your name it would make everything a lot more clear cut although the fact that he's paying rent/council tax at his new address would go in your favour.
As the previous poster says maintenance from ex partners does not affect your claim.

sittingupstraight Sat 07-Feb-15 20:32:01

Thanks everyone. Yes, I suppose I could call his bill paying a type of maintenance, I hadn't thought of it like that which sounds ridiculous I know, I just can't seem to see this in a clear straight way if that makes sense.

I did think about transferring the bills into my name but I worried (and still do) that he wouldn't give me any money. We're not that amicable, and he is terrible with money. Paying me a couple of hundred quid a month is easier to wriggle out of than paying a fixed direct debit to British Gas - which is why I kept things as they were.

Does anyone know if HMRC check things like utilities etc to see which name they are in? I suppose it's easy enough to find out. I'm just really new to this, and can't face a load of wrangling or even more messed up finances.

Thanks again

clare8allthepies Sat 07-Feb-15 20:34:37

They use credit reference agencies who will look at household utility bills, mortgage, bank accounts and thins like car insurance etc.

sittingupstraight Sat 07-Feb-15 20:46:11

Ah, well in that case I don't think I'd get anything then.....

I seem to be stuck in an awkward place with this- really haven't got enough money to live on but will end up even more broke if I juggle things around and put gas, electricity and water all in my name.

Hmm. I need to rethink it all. Perhaps I can take it off his rent which frees me up to claim TCs etc.

Fairylea Sat 07-Feb-15 20:55:48

It all sounds really messy. For the sake of your future sanity you need to set up now what is going to work for years to come. Basically you need to stop paying his rent, he needs to give you a lump sum maintenance (check the csa calculator for a guide) and you would need to declare the lodgers as income too (I did the same thing when I was a single parent). If you do that then you should be able to claim the correct level of tax credits which should enable you to keep paying the bills which can and should be moved to your sole name.

sittingupstraight Sat 07-Feb-15 21:22:47

Thanks Fairy. Yes, it is a bit messy - it's been formed, piecemeal, as we went along, rather than as a sensible organised agreement. We are selling our house, and as I will be moving into a new rented place with our DS, I'd originally thought that it made sense to wait to claim as this would be a lot more straightforward - as in all the bills in my name, no lodgers rental income inflating my actual earnings, and so on.

Unfortunately though our sale fell through last month - so basically I've ended up being a bit stuck, trying to hold on financially until I get some money from the sale. It's all far from ideal....

Fairylea Sat 07-Feb-15 21:29:29

Hmmm just as a side thought have you gone on "entitled to" (or turn to us, same thing) and put all your details in minus the lodgers to see how much wtc and ctc you'd be entitled to? I only ask because on a salary of £12k as a lone parent you'd probably be entitled to quite a lot. It might change the situation with needing the lodgers etc. Just an idea, I know you've probably already done that. If you could manage without the lodgers your income would be lower and you might find you are entitled to more help financially.

bimbobaggins Sat 07-Feb-15 21:55:28

Hello sittingupstraight, i am in exactly the same position as this.
I seperated from my ex in october and he has continued to contribute towards some of the household bills in lieu of maintenance. Its not an ideal situation for me as i find it a struggle to remain amicable with him but do so for the sake of my ds.

I applied for tax credits in december and was awarded them. I can guarantee 100% that we are no longer in a couple but i dont know how tax credits will view his contributions to the bills.

sittingupstraight Sat 07-Feb-15 22:10:44

Hi bimbobaggins, that's really interesting to hear, and I'm glad you got awarded TCs. Can I ask what you had to provide in terms of proof and so on? And did they ask you about bill payment? I've read from some posters on MN that they had to send copies of utility bills and bank statements, but maybe that's only if you're being investigated? It feels like a minefield - and a bit intimidating the idea of being asked to prove everything but I think I need to toughen up!

Thanks for that Fairy, yes I have checked it out and actually the lodgers income doesn't seem to make much of a difference. Every time I've put in the figures, it tells me I'd get around £800 a month which would just make a HUGE difference....

bimbobaggins Sat 07-Feb-15 22:19:55

Hi ive pm'd you .

sittingupstraight Sat 07-Feb-15 22:29:53

Thanks bimbobaggins

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