HM Revenue and Customs: Improving the Processing and Collection of Tax: Income Tax, Corporation Tax, Stamp Duty Land Tax and Tax Credits - Public Accounts Committee Contents

Memorandum from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

  I have been informed by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that the Rt Hon Don Touhig MP asked Richard Summersgill, Director Benefits and Credits Delivery, a question on 14 October regarding the number of cases that had been referred to my Office concerning overpayments of Tax Credits.

  Although we do not hold our data in a format that would allow us to easily check how many cases specifically related to overpayments, I am happy to share with you how many complaints my Office has received about Tax Credits, and to put those figures into context.

  In 2008-09, my Office received 1,161 complaints regarding Tax Credits. 985 of these were against HMRC, 24 were jointly against HMRC and the Adjudicator, and 152 were solely against the Adjudicator. I am confident that the vast majority of these cases will refer to overpayments.

  In 2008-09, my Office accepted 2 of those cases for investigation. Both were against HMRC.

  In 2008-09 my Office reported on 51 Tax Credit investigations. A breakdown of the outcome of those investigations is shown in the table below.
Fully upheld Partly upheld Not upheld Total

3 5 2 10
Both HMRC and the
1 22 16 39
Adjudicator0 0 2 2

  As you will no doubt be aware, I have produced two reports on the administration of Child and Working Tax Credits, in June 2005, entitled, Tax credits: putting things right and in October 2007, Tax Credits: Getting it wrong?

  I have, of course, kept a close eye on HMRC's progress in taking forward my recommendations, and I received a progress update from Lesley Strathie, Chief Executive of HMRC, this summer.

  By way of interest I can tell you that I saw a significant decrease in the number of complaints about tax credits coming to my Office in 2008-09 compared with in 2007-08 and I made reference to this in my Annual Report for 2008-09 which was laid before Parliament in July 2009. That is not to say that there is not more work to do; there do, undoubtedly, remain problems. My Office will continue to monitor closely the effectiveness and impact of the implementation of my recommendations, and analyse any further trends arising from the complaints which come to me. If I consider that further action on my part is necessary, I will not hesitate to intervene again in whatever way I believe to be most appropriate.

23 October 2009

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