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Disputing a tax credit decision

Lots of things can go wrong with tax credits. If you disagree with a decision that's been made on your Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit, you can dispute it.

This page tells you more about how you do this.

If you want to challenge a decision made on a benefit paid by the Social Security Agency or the Housing Executive, see the information on our other pages.

How you can dispute a tax credit decision

Decisions on your tax credits are made by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC). If you disagree with a tax credit decision there are several steps you can take. You can:

  • try to get more information about how the decision was taken
  • ask for the decision to be looked at again. This may lead to the decision being changed
  • appeal against the decision

Getting more information about your tax credit decision

Tax credit decisions are sent to you by letter. If you think the decision is wrong, it's a good idea to try and sort it out informally first before ask for the decision to be looked at again or make an appeal.

You can call the Tax Credit helpline to talk to someone about the decision. They may be able to spot what's gone wrong.

Alternatively, you can contact the local HMRC office that made the decision, either by phone or in person.

Make sure you have your National Insurance number to hand when you contact them.

The HMRC website also gives more information about what to do if you've got a problem with your tax credits.

If this doesn't solve the problem, you can ask for the decision to be looked at again.

Overpayments

If your problem is about being asked to pay back a tax credit overpayment, you need to follow a different process. You need to fill out form TC846. You have three months to dispute an overpayment decision.

Disputing your tax credit decision

The rules about how you can dispute a decision depend on when the decision was made.

For decisions made on or after 6 April 2014

For a decision on your tax credits made on or after 6 April 2014, you must ask for a mandatory reconsideration of the decision before you can appeal against it. You should do this in writing and send it to the office dealing with your claim within 30 days of the date of the decision.

There is no time limit for responding to your request but the decision maker must consider it as soon as they reasonably can.

When you ask for a decision to be reconsidered, it will be looked at again, usually by a different decision maker. They may ask you for more information. If they do, you should provide it as soon as possible.

The decision maker will send you the outcome of the reconsideration in a Mandatory Reconsideration Notice. If you get a revised decision and you still think it is wrong, you can decide to appeal against it.

For decisions made before 6 April 2014

If the decision on your tax credit was made before 6 April 2014, you may still be able to use the old appeals process in some cases.

Under the old appeals process, you can choose whether to ask HMRC to look at the decision again or appeal straight to a tribunal.You don't have to ask for a mandatory reconsideration first

The normal time limit for challenging a decision made before 6 April 2014 is 30 days. This means, in most cases, it is too late to challenge the decision.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, HMRC can accept late challenges on a decision up to 13 months after it was made if you have a good reason why your challenge is late. This could be, for example, because you've been in hospital, coping with bereavement or living abroad.  

If your time limit for challenging the decision has run out and you are not sure what to do, you can get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Appealing against a decision

Not all decisions have the right of appeal. The Mandatory Reconsideration Notice or decision letter will tell you if you have this right.

Remember, if the decision was made on or after 6 April 2014 you will have to ask for a mandatory reconsideration first before you can appeal. You should appeal within 30 days of the date of the decision.

Changes of circumstances

If the problem is because a change in circumstances has increased your award, you may not get all of the increase unless you tell HMRC. You should do this within one month of the change happening.

Next steps

Other useful information

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

Opening hours

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.

Overpayments

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