What Happens In A Single Tax Credits Claim Investigation?

If you are wondering what happens during a single Tax Credits claim investigation, you will find detailed guidance in the following blog post. Here, we will explain the process of a claims investigation and discuss the potential consequences claimants have to face depending on the results of the investigation. In the end, we will explore the possible actions claimants can take if they don’t agree with the results of the single Tax Credits claim investigation.

What Happens In A Single Tax Credits Claim Investigation?

If the HMRC investigates a single Tax Credits claim, it means that they have reason to believe that the claimant has undisclosed partners and instead of applying for a joint claim for Tax Credits, they are receiving payments for a single-person claim. The HMRC will then conduct an investigation which includes the following actions:

  • The claimant in question is contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Service and Personnel and Veterans Agency or the local council authority. This can be in the form of a letter or a phone call, or both. 
  • Fraud Investigation Officers (FIOs) can ask claimants to come for a meeting or visit their homes if they are unable to contact them through a phone call or if there is no response to their letter.
  • Claimants can also be asked to provide proof in support of their single-person Tax Credits claims as council tax bills. Details can either be provided by sending copies of the evidence through the post at the following address or by using an online form:

Tax Credit Office – Operations C

HM Revenue and Customs


  • During the investigation process, it is likely that benefits payments will be stopped. These will later be adjusted when the investigation is complete and will depend on the results of the investigation.

In the case of a meeting, claimants can be asked by the officials to sign a copy of their meeting notes. One should check these notes carefully before signing them as they will be part of the evidence of the investigation against them.

If the investigation reveals that there has been a misrepresentation of facts regarding a claimant’s single Tax Credits claim, they will be asked to sign a “certificate of full disclosure” which mentions that they have declared all relevant details regarding their claim. Before signing this document, claimants should make sure of the following:

  • they have read and understood the contents of the certificate;
  • and they have declared all the facts completely before the officials

The Tax Credits system requires partners (whether they are married, in a civil partnership or living together) to file for a joint claim so that both of their incomes are taken into account for the preliminary means test essential for a Tax Credits claim. 

If an individual applies for a single-person claim despite sharing their home with a partner or fails to update this change of circumstances with the HMRC and they have reason to believe that the facts have not been shared with them, there is an investigation into the matter.

If a claimant is found to be falsely claiming Tax Credits for a single person despite being married, in a civil partnership or living with a partner, they will be convicted of benefit fraud.

What Happens After A Single Tax Credits Claim Investigation?

What happens after a single Tax Credits claim investigation depends entirely on the results. If the claimant is found to be rightfully claiming a single-person payment for Tax Credits, they will continue receiving their payments in the same way. Tax Credits payments that were paused during the investigation will be adjusted in future payments and the HMRC or the FIO will file their report with the correct details.

If the investigation reveals that the claimant did not hide their relationship from the HMRC with the intention to commit benefit fraud, the partner sharing their household has no income to declare or there has been a delay in updating this change of circumstances for a genuine reason, the claimant will just be warned and asked to update their records with the HMRC at the earliest.

However, if a single Tax Credits claim investigation results in finding evidence of benefit fraud, claimants can expect the following actions to be taken against them:

  • They will have to return to the HMRC, overpaid money from a single-person Tax Credit claim.
  • Claimants can be penalised with a fine between £350 and £5,000 or be taken to court.
  • Their benefits may either be reduced or stopped (this is called a benefits sanction that be temporary or permanent).

Can You Challenge The Decision Of A Single Tax Credit Claim Investigation?

Yes, you can challenge the decision of a single Tax Credits claim investigation under the following circumstances:

  • you have been wrongly committed for benefit fraud; and
  • you have evidence to support your single-person claim

If you intend to challenge a benefits decision that has been made against you, you will have to request the HMRC or the DWP for a “mandatory reconsideration” whether you disagree on the amount of your payment for a benefit claim or a sanction being invoked on your claim. 

In the case of a mandatory reconsideration for a Tax Credits claim, such as one after a single Tax Credits claim investigation, you can file your appeal online using a WTC/AP form or take a printout of it and post it to the HMRC.

If you’ve not been given a statement of reasons with your decision letter after a claims investigation, you can also ask the DWP or the HMRC to provide you with one, before you appeal with a mandatory reconsideration.

However, if you remain unsuccessful despite asking for a statement of reasons and a mandatory reconsideration, you can appeal against your benefits decision through Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). 

If your appeal is against a decision made by the DWP, you will need to use Form SSCS1 and if your appeal is against a decision made by HMRC, you should refer to Form SSCS5


The above discussion entails the steps involved during a single Tax Credits claims investigation. The investigation usually starts with a phone call or letter from the HMRC to the claimants, followed by a meeting asking for proof in favour of their claim. Based on the evidence that a claimant provides and the information that HMRC receives from their investigation, a decision is made in favour of or against the claimant.


Problems with benefits and tax credits – Citizens Advice

Benefit fraud – GOV.UK

What if my claim is checked by HMRC? | Low Incomes Tax Reform Group