Penalised by Officialdom? A Good Lawyer Can Help!

Official decisions can have a dramatic impact on your life – but one of the benefits of living in a country where the rule of law prevails is that they can be challenged. The point was proved by one case in which a single mother took on HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in a dispute over tax credits and won hands down.

The woman’s tax credits had been stopped on the basis that she was not a lone parent, but rather was living with the father of her children. She explained that they were separated and, in lieu of child maintenance, he had permitted her to live in his house when he was away on business, which he frequently was.

She moved out to live with her parents whenever he returned home and it had been agreed between them that, when their children left full-time education, she would either move out or start to pay rent. Her arguments, however, did not impress HMRC and her challenge to the decision was rejected by the First-tier Tribunal (FTT).

In upholding her appeal against the latter decision, the Upper Tribunal (UT) found that the FTT had failed to analyse the reasons for HMRC’s decision with sufficient rigour. The woman’s description of her living arrangements was credible and the FTT had erred in reversing the burden of proof against her. The UT substituted its own decision that the woman’s tax credits should be restored to her.