This advice applies to Northern Ireland. Change country
Appealing against a tax credit decision
If you disagree with a tax credit decision you may have the right to appeal against it.
This page tells you more about how you can make an appeal.
The rules for appealing against other benefits are different and are described in the page on challenging a benefit decision.
What is an appeal?
An appeal means that your tax credit decision will be looked at by an independent tribunal. This is a panel of up to three people who are experts in tax credits. It always includes someone who is legally qualified.
The tribunal members are completely separate from the offices which make tax credit decisions.
The tribunal can't change the law and it can't consider changes of circumstances which took place since the decision was made.
Do you have the right to appeal?
If you have the right to appeal against a decision, you will be told this in the decision letter. If you can't appeal against a decision you may still be able to ask for it to be looked at again
Appealing against a tax credit decision
It's important that you follow the correct process if you decide to appeal against a tax credit decision. This will depend on when your decision was made.
If the decision was made on or after 6 April 2014
If your decision was made on or after 6 April 2014 you will have to ask for a mandatory reconsideration of your decision before you can appeal against it. This means that a decision maker will look at your decision again. You must do this within 30 days of the date of the decision. HMRC will send you a Mandatory Reconsideration Notice (MRN) when they have decided on the outcome of the reconsideration. You will need to send the MRN with your appeal form.
If the decision was made before 6 April 2014
You have 30 days from the date you were sent the decision letter to appeal a tax credit decision. In most cases, this time limit will now have run out. However, in some circumstances, you may be able to make an appeal for up to one year and 30 days after the date of the decision if there was a good reason why you were unable to dispute the decision at the time at the time. For example, you were in hospital, coping with bereavement or living abroad.
If you miss the deadline for appealing a decision made on or after 6 April 2014
If there are special circumstances which meant you couldn't appeal within the time limit, for example, because you were in hospital, it may be possible for a late appeal to be accepted.
A late appeal can also be accepted if the tribunal thinks that it is fair and just to let the appeal be heard. You should explain the reasons for your late appeal on the appeal form. Make sure you say why it's important for the decision to be changed.
A tribunal can only accept a late appeal within a year and 30 days from the date the decision was sent to you.
How to appeal
You must make your appeal in writing. You can appeal on form NOA1(HMRC). This will help you give all the information that is needed.
You can download the form from the nidirect website or phone the Appeals Service (TAS) and they will send you one.
If you can't get hold of the form, you can write a letter. Include the following information:
- put your name, date, address and National Insurance number and write Appeal at the top of the letter
- say why you think the decision is wrong
- give what you believe is the right information
- if you're appealing against more than one decision, put the date of each decision, and the reasons why you disagree with each one
- if you're appealing more than 30 days after the date of the HMRC decision, say why your appeal was delayed.
Send it directly to the Appeals Service Belfast office. Remember to make a copy of the form or letter. Send it recorded delivery or ask for proof of posting. Remember to include a copy of your Mandatory Reconsideration Notice or your appeal will not be accepted.
What happens when your appeal is received?
When the Appeals Service receives your appeal they will check that you have included all the information required by law. If any information is missing, they will write and ask you to send it. If you have sent all the information required, TAS will confirm that they have received your appeal. If your appeal is accepted TAS will write to you about your hearing. You will be asked if you want your appeal dealt with as an oral or paper hearing.
An oral hearing
This means that the tribunal will meet in public and you can attend. You can also bring a representative or your representative can attend without you. The tribunal can ask you questions, you can call witnesses and all the evidence will be considered.
You can get help with the costs of attending an oral hearing, for example, travel costs, childminding costs or loss of earnings.
A paper hearing
This means that the tribunal will consider all the evidence in private and you don't have to attend. If you choose a paper hearing you should send as much information and evidence as possible. You won't be told the date of the paper hearing. The Appeals Service will send you the result in writing.
What happens after an appeal
After the appeal has been heard, you will be given a decision notice or sent a decision letter that explains the tribunal's decision. If you want more details about the reasons for the decision and the tribunal’s findings, you can ask for this by contacting the Appeals Service within one month.
If you disagree with the decision of the tribunal, you may be able to make a further appeal to the Commissioners. They are independent lawyers who are expert in benefit law.
You can only appeal to the Commissioners if you disagree with the tribunal's interpretation of the law. You can't appeal if you think that the tribunal’s conclusions about the facts of your case are wrong.
If you want help with your appeal, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizens Advice.
There is further information on appealing against an HMRC decision on the nidirect website.
To appeal a HMRC decision, download form NOA1 (HMRC) from www.nidirect.gov.uk.
Other useful information
Appeals Service Northern Ireland
PO Box 2202
Tel: 028 9054 4000
Tax Credit Office
Tax Credit Helpline
Tel: 0345 300 3900
Textphone: 0345 300 3909 if you're deaf or hearing or speech impaired
Calling from abroad: +44 2890 538 192
8.00 am to 8.00 pm, Monday to Friday
8.00 am to 4.00 pm Saturday
Closed Sunday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau
To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.