£6,000 tax demand for grieving parents

Parents grieving after the death of their baby son have been given until Tuesday to repay £6000 in wrongly paid-out family tax credits - even though tax officials admits it is their fault.

Parents grieving after the death of their baby son have been given until Tuesday to repay £6000 in wrongly paid-out family tax credits - even though tax officials admits it is their fault.

Karen and Ken Henry are being forced to endure yet more agony as they try to heal the heartache following the cot death of their four-month-old son Scott.

Last night HM Revenue and Customs held their hands up to the error but still insisted the money would need to be paid.

Mrs Henry, 34, said: “This is just bringing up the heartache and pain of that unbearable horrendous time all over again.

“The tax office made a mistake and are making us literally pay for it, it's not our fault.

“All they want is money, they don't care about us or our feelings.

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“Each time we have to deal with them and talk about it, it's digging up the awful pain we're trying to leave behind.”

Their MP, Norman Lamb said: “This is completely unacceptable. It is yet more evidence of chaos in the tax credit system.

“I deal with so many cases like this and it drives people crazy that they have been trying to stop the payments and don't get a proper response.

“And in traumatic circumstances like this, to put a family through this sort of thing is horrific.”

Baby Scott was just four-months-old when he died suddenly in January 2003 having been a victim of cot death.

His devastated parents set about trying to carry on with their lives as best they could, notifying all the relevant authorities.

But when Mr Henry, 42, picked up his first pay packet after the tragedy he discovered he was still receiving working tax credit.

Mrs Henry immediately rang the tax office to inform them of their mistake and even offered to send them a copy of the letter they had sent her acknowledging they had seen Scott's death certificate.

They were told that they were entitled to receive the tax credits until the day Scott would have been one in September 2003.

And the couple continued to receive payments until the September, which amount to almost £6,000 the tax office are now trying to claim back.

Throughout this time Mrs Henry repeatedly contacted the tax office to make sure they had not made a mistake and they assured her they had not.

Mrs Henry said: “I kept ringing the office to tell them we didn't need, want or deserve it. It wasn't our money, why would we take it?

“We kept trying to tell them but no-one was listening.”

From October 2003 the couple who live in Dilham, near Stalham, with their 17-month-old daughter Freya, heard nothing back from the tax office until Thursday.

A letter arrived stating that the Henry's owed the tax office £5,923.77 and unless they paid it by Tuesday January 30 legal action will be taken.

Mrs Henry said: “You hear stories about people burying their heads in the sand and then getting into trouble like this.

“But we were so keen to get them to stop the payments and did everything in our power to prevent them.

“We have no equity. This will cripple us, we just don't have the money.”

Maddy Ratnett, spokesman for HM Revenue and Custom said: “This is a very, very sad case, and must be an awful situation to be in. But in all cases tax must be paid back.

“Tax credit will keep being paid until we are notified of any changes.

“And in this instance the tax credit kept going out even though we were notified. All I can do is apologise.

“The information should have been input into our computer database when we were first told. But for some reason it wasn't.

“We can only apologise, we don't know why it happened.

“But like with all tax, at the end of the day any overpayment must be repaid.”

Ms Ratnett could not shed light on why only the Henry's only had five days to make a payment of almost £6,000.