A single mum has claimed that her child tax credits were stopped by the HMRC “for having an affair with the post office”.
Debbie Balandis, 40, from Glasgow, received a letter from the HMRC saying her tax credits were being suspended under suspicion she had a new lover.
She immediately telephoned the HMRC and was told the name Martin McColl had appeared on her banking records, which led to the HMRC believing that Debbie was in a new relationship.
Debbie was left shocked and surprised by the allegation, because she hasn’t been in a relationship for ten years.
She then realised that the name Martin McColl is the trading name of a chain of newsagents, one of which she visits to collects her weekly tax credit payments – RS McColl.
Debbie tried to explain over the phone why the name was appearing on her banking activity, thinking this would be enough for her tax credits to be reinstated.
However, the taxman refused to accept the explanation and ordered Debbie to provide further evidence to prove Martin McColl wasn’t a live-in partner.
Debbie told the Daily Record: “I expected it to be sorted over the phone but instead I was told they knew I had a new partner.
“Shocked, I asked them who that was – because I’ve not been in a relationship for 10 years.
“The call handler said they had looked through my benefit payments and asked me who Mr McColl was?
“At first I was surprised – I’d never heard of anyone with that name – but suddenly I realised it was the name of the shop where I was withdrawing my money.
“I begged HMRC not to leave me without a penny all because of a fictitious boyfriend.
“But they didn’t believe me and have now stopped my benefits for supposedly having an affair with the post office.”
Debbie, who also receives £80 a fortnight in Jobseeker’s Allowance, relies on the child tax credits to provide horse-riding lessons for her disabled son.
“I called HMRC and spent £19 on hold waiting to speak to someone – money I can’t afford.
“My son has disabilities and he lives for his weekly horse-riding which really helps him. Now I have to disappoint him and say I can’t pay for it.
“HMRC say I’ve to write to them again but I’m afraid if I get something wrong it will hold up the process even longer.”
Debbie has now been accused of having two other boyfriends.
“I went to a Citizens Advice office on Wednesday to get this sorted out as I have literally not a single penny.
“A representative called HMRC and they told her they actually have me on their records as having three boyfriends now”, she said.
“I’m apparently having a relationship with the post office, a previous tenant and now my landlord which is completely untrue.”
A HMRC spokesperson said the payments would be reinstated once they are satisfied that Debbie’s circumstances haven’t changed.