This section summarises recent decisions of the Upper Tribunal; these set a binding precedent on HMRC decision-makers and First–tier Tribunals in similar cases.
HMRC must show reasonable grounds for changing decision
This is another case highlighting HMRC’s poor practice in failing to set out the legal and factual basis for its decisions, and its appalling treatment of lone parents it has accused of living with a partner. In this case, the claimant was originally awarded child tax credit and working tax credit as a single claimant. Nearly a year later, HMRC declared that it had ‘reason to believe’ she was living with an undeclared partner and ended her claim because she ‘failed to provide sufficient evidence to support the validity of her single claim’. The Judge describes HMRC’s flawed logic in basing such a decision on the claimant’s inability to prove a negative, i.e. the failure to provide certain evidence that she is not living with a partner. ‘Astonishingly’, the claimant did send a reply and documentary evidence, which HMRC failed to include with the appeal papers. HMRC went on to take the ‘bold step’ of asking for the appeal to be struck out because the claimant had not provided evidence requested, despite not offering any itself. The Judge makes it clear that:
The outcome of this case was that due to these failures, HMRC’s decision was cancelled, thereby reinstating the claimant’s entitlement.
Read the decision in full: SB v HMRC  UKUT 0543 (AAC)
Shared parental leave and statutory shared parental pay is being introduced for couples expecting a baby or adopting a child on or after 5 April 2015. This replaces additional paternity leave and pay, and offers more flexibility to couples to share the responsibility for the child and protect their income in the first year.
Shared parental leave is available to parents who share the care of a child with husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter the child’s other parent a partner (living together) – includes same sex couples.
The mother must first meet the qualifying conditions for maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance, and then decide to give it up in favour of shared parental leave and pay. The other parent/partner must also meet conditions about employment and earnings. Opting for shared parental leave allows leave and pay to be split between each person and into up to three separate blocks of leave in the first year. It can also be taken at the same time, allowing a couple more time together with the baby.
Alternatively, statutory maternity leave and statutory maternity pay can still be claimed as before by women who choose to do so, or are lone parents, or whose partner is not in work. Similarly, statutory adoption leave and pay can still be claimed instead of shared parental leave. ‘Ordinary’ paternity leave and pay (1 or 2 weeks in the first 8 weeks after the birth) is not affected by the change, other than now simply being known as ‘paternity leave’ and statutory paternity pay.
Tax credit rules are also amended so that someone receiving shared parental pay, or on shared parental leave for up to 39 weeks, can still be treated as in work, if working immediately before.
More information on shared parental leave is available at www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay