You have separated and have a joint tax credits overpayment

If you’ve been overpaid tax credits and have split up from your partner, both of you are responsible for paying back the overpayment. You can try to agree between yourselves what each of you should pay back. But help is available if you can’t afford to repay the money.

On this page:

How does an overpayment of tax credits happen?

When you make a claim the Tax Credit Office works out how much to pay you based on your circumstances. Sometimes you may be paid too much tax credits and this can happen for a variety of reasons including:

  • your household income was a lot more than you said it was going to be
  • you didn’t renew your tax credits on time
  • you made a mistake on the claim form you sent in
  • you didn’t tell the Tax Credit Office when you separated


Who has to pay back the money?

If your claim was a joint claim, try first of all to agree with your ex-partner how much each of you should pay.

The options are that:

  • each of you pays half
  • each of you pays a different amount
  • one of you pays all of it

Once you have reached an agreement with your ex-partner, call the Tax Credit Payment Helpline on Tel 0345 302 1429 to arrange repaying the overpayment.

You will then get a letter confirming what you have to pay back.


If you can’t agree who should pay what

You might not be able to talk it over with your ex-partner. This could be because you don’t want to contact them or you don’t know where they are. Even if you do speak to them you might not be able to agree on what each should pay back.

If this happens you should still speak to the Tax Credit Payment Helpline as quickly as possible. You should also tell them your ex partner’s address if you know it.

You will then be asked to pay back half of the overpayment, with your ex-partner being asked to pay back the rest. You will not be asked to pay back more than half of the overpayment.


Making the repayment

The Tax Credit Office can’t take the money you owe from any new claim you make, because the overpayment was on a joint claim. You will usually have to repay the money as a lump sum within 30 days.

How to make tax credits repayments


If you have difficulties repaying the money

If repaying the lump sum means you can't meet essential living expenses, like rent, electricity or gas, you may be able to pay in instalments. Or you might be able to have your payment date put back. In exceptional cases, if paying back causes you real difficulty, the Tax Credit Office may write-off your overpayment.

Difficulty repaying tax credits?


What happens if you or your ex-partner does not pay back their share?

The Tax Credit Office will always try to make sure that each of you pays back your share. They will take every possible step to get the money back that you or your ex-partner owes.

The most that either you or your partner will ever have to pay back will be half each.


Contact details

You can contact the Tax Credit Payment Helpline on Tel 0345 302 1429.


More useful links

Find out more about how overpayments of tax credits happen

Find out what to do if you disagree with a tax credit overpayment

Find out how to avoid being paid too much or not enough tax credits

Find out what happens with tax credits when a partner leaves or moves in with you

Leaving tax credits