Questions Of Cash: You may not be entitled to tax credit, but give it a try

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The Independent Online

Q I work and pay tax in the UK, but my home is in the Irish Republic, where we get child benefit. I am completing an application for the new child tax credit, which asks for our UK child benefit number, which we do not have. Are we entitled to child tax credit? RW, Dundalk

Q I work and pay tax in the UK, but my home is in the Irish Republic, where we get child benefit. I am completing an application for the new child tax credit, which asks for our UK child benefit number, which we do not have. Are we entitled to child tax credit? RW, Dundalk

Probably not, but this system was introduced on 6 April, and not all its rules have been interpreted in practice. The Inland Revenue says that to receive the tax credit you "have to be a resident of the UK" and as you live in Ireland you are unlikely to qualify. But they say you should apply so the Revenue can determine your case.

Liz Lathwood, of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, says you must be ordinarily resident in the UK to be eligible. The situation is different from that for the old children's tax credit, which was a tax relief, and the new child's tax credit is a payment with new rules.

Cross-border workers are subject to European Union anti-discrimination laws, which mean they should not be disadvantaged in state benefits.

Robert Langstone, tax manager at the accountant Grant Thornton, says this probably does not affect your case because child benefit is higher in the Irish Republic, so it is difficult to claim you are financially disadvantaged if you are ruled ineligible.

Q We asked Alba Life for a surrender value for our endowment policy and it quoted £5,468. We agreed to surrender it, but the cheque came through for just £3,645. Apparently Alba Life downwardly revalued endowments the day after it provided us with a surrender value. RC, by e-mail.

Quoted surrender values apply for a limited period. In your case your quote was dated 31 March, but your surrender form was not submitted for two weeks. Britannic Assurance, which owns Alba Life, tells us its letter of offer "clearly states that this value can fluctuate and is not guaranteed".

It is essential any endowment policyholder is sure the quoted value still applies when surrendering. But Britannic accepts that in your case there were "dramatic differences between surrender quote and the actual surrender value". It says it has new control mechanisms to prevent a recurrence. It will also send you a cheque to reimburse you in full.

Q Last October, Abbey National offered us compensation as a result of the mortgage dual-pricing judgement by the Ombudsman. We accepted and the bank said payment would be completed by 4 November last year. This has not been paid and my conversations with its call centre leave me frustrated. AT, Isle of Man

You are referring to the decision of the Financial Ombudsman Service that mortgage lenders must offer the same rate to existing and new borrowers. Abbey National agrees it has made several errors with your account.

Although you notified the bank of your correct address, it has sent correspondence to the mortgaged property. It says it will review its procedures to prevent this happening again. It is processing your application for change of account and the terms will be backdated to last November. It will send you £100 and a bunch of flowers as a gesture of goodwill.

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