by L.W. 21 November 2007
Very luckily I found the original Tax Credit Casualties website literally the day before we were due in Court. We’d already submitted a defence, which HMRC (no surprise) turned down, but we hadn’t been through any of the formal dispute processes (TC846 and all that). We turned up to Court then argued with the Inland Rev reps there that we wanted the case adjourned so that we could go through the dispute procedure, and they agreed. It took a bit of courage and front to do it, but it was definitely worth it, and now we are chugging our way through the dispute process. We’ve also gained some time and a lot of knowledge, and we’re now far better equipped to fight our case.
If you have received Court paperwork then don’t ignore it! If you haven’t already exhausted every single stage of HMRC’s dispute procedure (see How to Dispute ) then write on these forms that you dispute owing the whole amount shown. On the court defence form write that you have yet to go through, or exhaust, HMRC’s dispute procedures for Tax Credit overpayments and therefore HMRC, as confirmed by their own policies, should not be taking you to Court or seeking repayments. State that you wish to proceed, or continue, with the dispute process.
If you’ve been through all the stages already then please contact Tax Credit Casualties, because you’d be amazed at the huge range of blunders, oversights, misinformation and miscalculations we’ve discovered and we can help you uncover new information to continue your dispute.
If you’ve been given a Court date then don’t ignore it! The worst thing you can do is not turn up because then you will be found 'guilty' by default. So, beforehand, arm yourself with all the paperwork that you have and print off pages from this site. Get some advice from your local CAB, too.
Phone the tax office a day or two before, tell them that you will be attending Court and ask them to send you full details of all the evidence they have against you. In our case it was a local Inland Revenue office, who actually had no access to Tax Credits records whatsoever, but it’s worth doing as it shows that you are serious and will hold them to account.
In our case they actually sounded surprised that we were going to attend Court – most people don’t bother and so they have an easy ride.
On the day of the Court case we arrived early, looking smart and were armed with a folder full of paperwork. Having seen A Cautionary Tale on the Tax Credit Casualties website we decided the best we could hope for was to get the case adjourned so that we could follow the dispute procedure.
Inside the waiting area we were met by two representatives from Inland Revenue who wanted to interview us before the Court hearing. We were a bit nervous about this, but luckily I have a little experience of being in Court (don’t ask) and we were feeling quite bold.
Basically, the Inland Revenue reps told us that we owed £5000 and wanted to know how we were going to pay. We told them that we weren’t going to pay and that we wanted the case to be adjourned because we had not gone through the official dispute procedure and we wanted to do this.
The Inland Rev reps said that was fine and they didn’t mind recommending to the Judge that the case was adjourned, but again asked us how we were going to pay because the Judge would want to know. We again told Inland Rev that we weren’t going to tell them how we were going to pay a debt that we did not owe, and that if the Judge asked that they could tell him that we had refused to answer because we did not believe that we owed any money.
This took a bit of front to say but was deeply satisfying!
We then all went into Court and the Inland Revenue reps asked for the case to be adjourned, so luckily we didn’t have to ask for this. The Judge agreed and adjourned the case for 2 months later, saying that the Court room was not the place to appeal the amount owed (!).
We then immediately requested the TC846 form, sending everything by recorded delivery, and returned the form promptly. The two months passed and we hadn’t even got through the first stage of dispute, so when it came round again we explained this and the Judge stayed the case for 12 months.
It’s now 5 months later - we are still not into stage 2 of the dispute process and still haven’t received all of our data protection request info. Given the speed at which HMRC operate, the 12 months will pass and we will still be in the dispute process.