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Tax Credits

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what directions (a) he and (b) the Paymaster General have given to the new Chairman of HM Revenue and Customs in 2006 on the operation of the tax credits system; and if he will make a statement; (95736)

(2) what work his Department has been carrying out since July 2006 to improve the tax credits system.

I refer the hon. Member to the Chancellor’s Annual Remit for 2006-07 to HMRC which can be found at Annex A of HMRC’s Spring Departmental Report 2006 available at www.hmrc.gov.uk.

HMRC continue to develop the tax credits IT system.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his estimate is of the cost of organised tax credit fraud in (a) 2004-05 and (b) 2005-06; and how many prosecutions for such fraud there have been. (97663)

I refer the hon. Member to HM Revenue and Customs 2005-06 Accounts: The Comptroller and Auditor General’s Standard Report, available at http://www.nao.org.uk/ and to the HMRC publication ‘Tackling error and fraud in the Child and Working Tax Credits’ available on the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/news/index.htm.

For numbers of prosecutions in 2004-05 I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 10 January 2006, Official Report, columns 557-8W.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his estimate is of the cost/yield ratios for investigating tax credit (a) fraud and (b) error; and if he will make a statement. (97665)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his Department’s target is for reductions in the levels of tax credit (a) fraud and (b) error; and if he will make a statement. (97673)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the evidence given to the Public Accounts Committee by the Acting Chairman of HMRC on 23 October 2006.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of how many software errors which potentially caused errors in tax credit payments there were in HM Revenue and Customs’ computer systems in each reporting period since April 2003; what the latest figure is; and if he will make a statement. (97674)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. Goodman) on 31 January 2006, Official Report, column 411-12W.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much tax credit overpayment made in (a) 2003-04 and (b) 2004-05 had been recovered by 30 September 2006; and if he will make a statement. (97699)

The amounts recovered up to 31 March 2006 are shown in Table 6 of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Standard Report on the HM Revenue and Customs 2005-06 Accounts, which is available on the HMRC website at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/about/reports.htm.

No estimates for 30 September 2006 are available except at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what total amount of tax credit fraud has been prevented since April 2001 by (a) pre-payment and (b) post-payment checks; and if he will make a statement. (98092)

I refer the hon. Member to HM Revenue and Customs 2005-06 Accounts: The Comptroller and Auditor General's Standard Report, available at http://www.nao.org.uk/

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes there have been to HM Revenue and Customs internal guidelines and procedures for appeals against disputed tax credit overpayments since 1 April 2004; and if he will make a statement. (98130)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to waive the repayment of tax credit overpayments where they have been caused by HM Revenue and Customs staff errors. (98847)

HMRC’s policy on dealing with overpayments, including those caused by their mistake, is set out in their code of practice—COP 26—“What happens if we have paid you too much tax credit?”.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of trends in the use of means other than the e-portal to attempt credit fraud since the closure of the tax credit e-portal. (98853)

I refer the hon. Member to HM Revenue and Customs 2005-06 Accounts: The Comptroller and Auditor General’s standard report, available at http://www.nao.org.uk/