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Challenging a Child Benefit or Guardian's Allowance decision - Appeal against the decision

If you think a Child Benefit or Guardian's Allowance decision is wrong, you may be able to get it changed.

Appeal against the decision

If you are not happy with HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC's) mandatory reconsideration notice (see Have the decision looked at page of this guide) then you may be able to move onto the second stage of the appeals process and ask an independent tribunal to look at the decision. You must have asked for a mandatory reconsideration before you can appeal to the tribunal.

Not all decisions can be appealed. In particular, you cannot appeal against a decision about who to award Child Benefit to if you and another person have both applied, have equal priority, and were unable to decide which of you should receive Child Benefit.

When you appeal a decision, it will be looked at by an independent tribunal, which is completely separate from the HMRC Child Benefit Office.

How do I appeal?

You must make your appeal in writing to the tribunal service directly. HMRC will not automatically send the appeal to the Tribunal Service.

If you appeal on the official appeal form, this can help you to give all the information that is needed.

In England, Wales and Scotland, you can find the appeal form SCS5 on the Gov.UK website.  There are also SSCS5 guidance notes that will help you fill the form. You will need to send one copy of the mandatory reconsideration notice that you received from HMRC, with your appeal to the tribunal service.

In Northern Ireland, you will need to use appeal form NOA1 (HMRC).

Time limit

In England, Wales and Scotland, you have one calendar month from the date on the mandatory reconsideration notice that you received from HMRC (see previous page).

Late appeal

If you missed the deadline for reasons out of your control, such as illness or bereavement, you may be given more time to appeal.

When you appeal, you should explain why it is late. There is a special section on the appeal form where you can give reasons why your appeal is late. If HMRC do not object to your reasons for appealing late, they will carry on with the appeal as if it was made on time.

If HMRC do object to your late appeal, the Tribunal will write to you and they will decide whether to accept the late appeal, if you made the appeal within 13 months from the date on the mandatory reconsideration notice. After 13 months, the appeal cannot be accepted even if you have good reason for it being late.

Possible outcomes

Look again at the decision

If they haven’t already, a different decision maker will look at the decision and decide whether it should be changed.

If they decide that they can’t change the original decision, your appeal will carry on.

If they decide that the original decision is wrong, they will change the decision and send you a new decision letter:

If the new decision makes you better off, your appeal will stop. You can appeal this new decision if you think it is wrong.

If the new decision does not make you better off, your appeal will carry on but now it will be against the new decision.

If your appeal carries on, your appeal form will be sent to HM Courts and Tribunals Service, who run the First Tier Tribunal. The benefit office will also include their response. This explains:

  • How they came to their decision

  • What information they used

  • What benefit law they based their decision on. 

The First Tier Tribunal

The First Tier Tribunal will decide if you are legally entitled to a benefit and can change a decision if they think it is wrong.

The Tribunal could make a decision that leaves you worse off so it is often best to seek advice before deciding whether to appeal.

The Tribunal cannot:

  • Change the law

  • Deal with administrative complaints, like delay or poor service (see complaints about your claim)

  • Consider changes of circumstances which have taken place since the decision was made - you may be able to make a new benefit claim.

For information about what happens when your appeal is received by the Tribunal Service (England, Scotland and Wales) or Appeals Service (Northern Ireland), see Turn2us information on First Tier Tribunal Appeals.
Updated: January 2022

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