Tax Credits: HMRC Research Reports
Below are a series of research reports funded by HMRC into various parts of the tax credits system.
Working Tax Credit & Child Tax Credit -
This report is based on findings from the Panel Study of Tax Credits and Child Benefit customers. It explores:
- Treasury analysis: estimated number of claimants affected by the change to the Tax Credit Income Disregard (28 January 2016)
This sets out the number of people HMT estimate are affected by the lowering of the Tax Credit Income Disregard from £5,000 to £2,500, it also includes an explanation of how the estimate was calculated.
- Tax Credits: New guidance notes usability testing (28 July 2015)
This research study aimed to explore overall responses to the new (prototype) guidance with a range of Tax Credits customers – considering both the content of the notes and the overall ‘look and feel’. Specifically, the research aimed to explore: How far the guidance notes meet the needs of customers; How clear and easy they are to understand; How far customers use the notes rather than writing to or telephoning HMRC; and How effective they are at driving traffic to the website (for renewals)
- Tax Credits Communications Campaign Tracking Wave 29 (20 July 2015)
Research report about Wave 29 of the tax credits communications tracking to measure the success of the 2014 renewals advertising campaign.
Panel Study of Tax Credit Customers: Telephone survey 2014
This report covers finding from the latest wave of the panel study, focusing on current and future digital services, tax credit customers’ understanding of the tax credit system and tax credit customers’ experiences of the system.
Understanding why customers make avoidable calls to the helpline
The purpose of this research was to understand why tax credit customers made a ‘progress chasing’ call to the helpline despite having digital acknowledgement of their tax credits claim or renewal and to explore possible improvements.
- Customer needs when transferring tax credits debt to universal credit
The objectives of this study were: to explore customers’ awareness of the overpayment debts they have and how they feel about them; understand how customers are likely to react when they are informed about the transfer of their debt and what information and communications are needed to make this experience as positive as possible; explore reactions to joint tax credits debt being jointly split and are being asked to repay old debts which they had not previously known about; and highlight the optimum design for the debt summary statement and the notice to pay that provides customers with the level and type of information they need and through the most desirable channel
- HM Revenue and Customs Contact Centres survey report 2013 to 2014
Survey results for 2013 to 2014 - a survey of customers' experience of using HM Revenue and Customs Contact Centres.
- HM Revenue and Customs Customer Survey 2008 to 2014
Aggregated results from the quarterly survey waves in the 2013 to 2014 financial year for each customer group with, where appropriate, comparisons with previous years.
- Tax credits tracking: Wave 27 (22 January 2014)
Research report about Wave 27 of the tax credits communications tracking to measure the success of the 2013 renewals advertising campaign.
- Panel Study of Tax Credits Customers: Telephone survey 2013
Findings from the 2013 tax credits panel study looking at digital services, experience of tax credits systems and the transition to Universal Credit.
- Tax credits: finalising awards (12 June 2013)
Research report looking into tax credit customer initial reactions to the sample finalisation letter, and whether they understood it. Also the research helped to identify potential queries which customers may have on receipt of the finalisation letter.
- Tax Credits - Error and Fraud Additional Capacity Trial
These reports show the findings of HMRC's additional capacity trial, which saw a private sector company carry out error and fraud checks on tax credits case. The trial was intended as a ‘proof of concept’ and as such, these reports suggest that use of the private sector to undertake work in this way is indeed feasible with no clear detrimental effect on accuracy, for example we learn that quality assurance results were the same or better than HMRC but there are some points to address in terms of planning and communications.
- Building capacity in HMRC contact centres
HMRC have been testing a small-scale model for suppliers to provide more capacity using 3rd party staff working in existing HMRC call centres. The testing has now finished and this report summarises the findings of the pilot.
- No 273 - Channels of Communication: Usage and Preferences among Tax Credits Customers
This report is based on findings from the Panel Study of Tax Credits and Child Benefit customers. It explores: How tax credits customers communicate and would prefer to communicate with HMRC; The support customers need with their claim, where they currently access that support, and where they would prefer to access that support; Customers’ current use of computers and the internet, with the transition to digital channels under Universal Credit in mind.
- No 272 – HMRC Customer Survey Results 2012-2013
This report presents results from the Customer Survey 2012-2013 for each customer group, making comparisons with previous years.
- No 271 – HMRC Contact Centre Survey Results 2012-2013
Report of the HMRC Contact Centre Survey results for 2012-2013 - a survey of customers' experience of using HMRC Contact Centres.
- No 257 – Tax Credit customers experiences of and responses to the High Risk Renewals intervention
This report explores tax credits customers' experiences of and responses to the High Risk Renewals intervention
- No 257, Annex 2 – research materials for HMRC research report 257
Annex 2 to report no. 257 Tax credits customers' experiences of and responses to the High Risk Renewals intervention.
- No. 256 – Qualitative research into the use and communication of PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) and auto-renewal in the tax credits system
Qualitative research to explore customer understanding, opinions and concerns regarding the use of RTI and its communication
- No. 255 – Finalising tax credits, customer responses to different letter styles
This report explores Tax Credit customers' responses to different letter styles in order to create the optimum finalisation letter.
- No 252 – Technical Report, Panel Study of tax credit customers
Technical report describing the research methods used in the 2012 wave of the Panel Study of Tax Credits Customers
- No. 251 – Panel Study of tax credit customers
This report covers findings from the latest wave of the Panel Study, focusing on two areas of strategic priority to HMRC: reducing error and fraud, and the transition to Universal Credit
- No. 240 – Tracking Renewals Adverting for tax credits (October 2012)
This piece of research covers Wave 25 of the Tax Credits communications tracking and evaluates the 2012 Renewals activity.
- No. 230 – HMRC Contact Centres Survey Report, 2011-2012
The survey started in October 2010 and covers all lines of business and contact centres. This report covers the results for the April 2011 to March 2012; results from October 2011 to March 2012 have been compared to results from October 2010 to March 2011 where possible.
- No. 229 - Rules-based service. Customer understanding & Effectiveness
This reports aims to test key elements of the RBS childcare process using cognitive testing methods, for customer comprehension and effectiveness in capturing all the required information and to explore customers’ views about reporting changes in circumstances, and their ability to accurately provide the required information such as income and childcare charges.
- No. 226 - HM Revenue & Customs Customer Survey, 2008-2012
HMRC Customer Survey
- No. 200 – Testing core Messages with customers
HMRC believes that it can target and change customer behaviour by ensuring that all communications are clearer and more direct: this can be achieved by the use of Core Messages. HMRC commissioned this research in order to test a series of draft Core Messages for individuals in a robust qualitative manner. The aim of this research was to identify which Core Messages and message elements work and which do not, and more importantly, why.
- No. 194 - Deaf and Hard of Hearing Experience of HMRC contact
Research carried out among deaf and hard of hearing customers to explore experiences of contacting HMRC and other large organisations. The core objectives were to examine deaf and hard of hearing customer views of HMRC
- No. 193 – Individuals Segmentation Enhancement
This report explores an enhanced picture of HMRC individual customer segments to ensure alignment and validation of the strategies as applied to individuals.
- No. 192 - Antecedents, Behaviours and Consequences, Behavioural Modelling
Linked to report 191, this report investigates customer segmentation, in particular what puts an individual into the segment they’re in. The work is a quantitative follow up of the qualitative segmentation deep-dive
- No. 191 A deep-dive investigation into understanding segment allocation for the individuals’ segmentation
Research into the way individuals in each customer segmentation group are influenced.
- The information needs of tax credits customers during their transition out of the tax credits system
This report details the findings of qualitative research around information needs of customers before and during the transition from tax credits to Universal Credit. The report explores current awareness of Universal Credit; information needs of customers, including their preferences around timing and channel and highlights possible implications the change may have on tax credits claim management while customers remain in the tax credit system.
- Panel Study of Tax Credits and Child Benefit Customers
This report presents the findings of the 2011 Panel Study of Tax Credits and Child Benefit Customers. It provides information on a number of topics related to tax credits and assesses the tax credit system from the customers’ perspective, with focus on timeliness and quality: interactive voice recordings; changes to tax credits; responsibilities of tax credit customers and views on error & fraud; financial management and payment process changes and HMRC letters about undeclared changes.
- HMRC’s use of information and intelligence to counter fraud in the tax credits system (May 2011)
This report, from HMRC, considers whether HMRC Benefits and Credits (BC) is properly structured and aligned with its key stakeholders to maximise the flow and utilisation of all available intelligence. It also examines whether, in the emerging fight to combat large-scale fraudulent attacks, HMRC BC is being asked to deliver in a specialist area in which it has no real experience, expertise, or therefore competence. The report makes 25 recommendations.
- No. 155 - Understanding HMRC customers: Feedback from representatives of race, disability and gender groups
This report presents findings from research with representatives of race, disability and gender groups in order to better understand the needs of these groups. The report provides recommendations for HMRC in relation to its four main business areas: benefits and credits; personal tax; business tax; and, enforcement and compliance.
- No. 150 - Views on eligibility for tax credits and child benefit and any stigma associated with claiming these
This report looks at customers’ views about how levels of income should affect eligibility for tax credits and child benefit. The report is based on a telephone survey of tax credit and child benefit customers during the summer of 2010.
- No. 149 - Risk factors of error in the tax credits process
This report focuses on the risk factors of introducing errors in the tax credits process. The report is based on findings from the 2009 Panel Study of tax credits and child benefit customers.
- No. 148 - Tax credits renewals
This report focuses on people’s experiences with the renewals process of tax credits. It is based on findings from the the 2009 Panel Study of tax credits and child benefit customers, a HMRC survey carried out by the National Centre for Social Research
- No. 147 – Experiences of using childcare and claiming the childcare element
This report presents research findings on the childcare element of Working Tax Credit. The material is mostly drawn from the 2009 Panel Study of Tax Credits and Child Benefit Customers and covers the use of childcare by recipients of tax credits, the take-up of the childcare element, recipients' experience of managing their childcare element claim and the risk factors of getting an incorrect entitlement to the childcare element.
- No. 146 – Customers’ experience of the tax credits helpline
This report presents findings on tax credits recipients' experience and views of the Tax Credits Helpline. It is based on analysis of survey data collected as part of the Panel Study of Tax Credits and Child Benefit Customers, a HM Revenue & Customs survey carried out by the National Centre for Social Research.
- No. 145 – Financial support from tax credits at the beginning of the economic downturn in 2008-2009
This report is focused on changes in the financial situation of tax credit recipients during the period between the beginning of the economic downturn of 2008 and summer 2009. It explores how tax credits recipients managed financially during this period and whether the economic downturn led to any changes in their behaviour. Findings are presented from the Panel Study of Tax credits and Child Benefit, a HM Revenue & Customs survey carried out by the National Centre for Social Research.
- No. 144 – Take-up of tax credits
Not all households who are eligible to claim tax credits actually claim them. This report draws on evidence from questions exploring why some eligible households do not claim tax credits asked on two omnibus surveys, and on the 2009 Panel Study of Tax Credits and Child Benefit Customers conducted by the National Centre for Social Research.
- Research into families' experiences and behaviours in the Childcare Affordability Pilots
This report published by the Department of Education in conjunction with HMRC reports on the childcare affordability pilots that were carried out in 2009. There were 5 pilots in the programme, of which 3 were managed by HMRC and involved changes to the current tax credit system. They were designed to test whether changes to both the amount and way in which tax credits were paid with regards to childcare encouraged take-up of childcare and employment. The appendices are also available.
- No. 132 - Tax credits claim pack summary
This research compared customers using a new version of the TC600 claim form notes and folder with customers using older versions to see what impact the new materials would have on error and contact.
- No.131 - Renewals guidance
The aim of this research was to help HMRC make a decision on whether to industrialise the new guidance to accompany renewals forms. The research looked at whether the new guidance made a difference to error, claimant understanding, and contact with HMRC. The conclusion of the research was that the process should be industrialised as there were no areas of concern.
- No.130 - Lone parent migration to Child Tax Credit
This research looks at the migration of lone parents from DWP benefits to Child Tax Credit. It seeks to identify problems with the process and make improvements for later phases of migration.
- No. 122 - Exploring Agent’s Perceptions of a Quality HMRC Service
A qualitative study to understand in detail what represents good or poor staff treatment, and what agents understand by a quality HMRC service, process or product.
- No. 117 - Engagement with Tax Credits among Chinese and Indian people
This report contains the findings from qualitative research among members of the Chinese and Indian population which explored experiences of applying for and claiming tax credits as well as the barriers to take-up.
- No. 116 - The experience of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities with HMRC services
This report presents brings together the findings from qualitative research and a literature review designed to explore access to benefits, tax and welfare services by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups.
- No. 115 - Migrant workers' interactions with welfare benefits: a review of recent evidence and its relevance for the tax credits system
The report provides findings from a literature review of available evidence relevant to understanding migrant workers' experiences, expectations, and attitudes to tax credits as well as other benefits. This review was prepared to provide a context for the qualitative HMRC project 'European migrant workers' understanding and experience of the tax credits system'.
- No. 114 - European migrant workers' understanding and experience of the tax credits system
This report presents findings from a qualitative research study into the understanding of tax credit rules and responsibilities among European migrant workers and their experiences of the tax credits system.
- No. 113 - Customer Experiences of Tax Credits Overpayments
This report presents the findings from qualitative research designed to explore issues related to the overpayment of tax credits: why some tax credits customers continue to experience overpayments year on year while other customers incur an overpayment once and then not again in subsequent years; why tax credits customers who are subject to direct recovery of an overpayment fail to respond when the Department actively attempts to contact them to recover the overpayment; how customers want HMRC to handle overpayments particularly when customers have asked HMRC to give their case special consideration due to financial reasons; how HMRC can improve the way it handles overpayments and the way it communicates with customers about overpayments; and why overpayments occur.
- No. 112 - Outreach through Children's Centres Qualitative Research Report
To support an evaluation of the impact of the Outreach through Children's Centre Initiative which aimed to deliver face-to-face HMRC adviser help and support in Children's Centres, this report details a qualitative study into the customer, adviser and Children's Centre experience of the initiative.
- No. 111 - Outreach through Children's Centres Quantitative Baseline Report
This report presents the findings from HMRC’s baseline survey of Children's Centres visitors to support the evaluation of the Outreach through Children's Centre Initiative to deliver information and advice about tax credits through Children's Centres.
- No. 110 - Tax credits: income, work and hours
Customers receiving tax credits have to give HMRC up-to-date details of their income, working status and hours. Customers tended to have greater difficulties giving accurate information on income, working status and hours worked when they had complex working arrangements, multiple or temporary employment, English as their second language or they had recently experienced a significant change in household composition.
- No. 109 - Tax Credits and Reporting Changes in Household Composition
A qualitative study to explore tax credits customers' awareness of their responsibility to declare a new partner to HMRC, their understanding of how HMRC defines a partnership, and the triggers and barriers associated with reporting a change in household composition.
- No. 108 – HMRC Customer Survey 2008-2010
Report of HMRC’s Customer Survey results 2008-10.
- No. 107 - An evaluation of research and development tax credits
This report summarises the findings of a suite of studies to inform an evaluation of the research and development (R&D) of tax credit schemes introduced since April 2000.
- No. 95 - HMRC Customer Survey 2007
HMRC's annual Customer Service Survey (CSS) 2007 results
- No.93 - Executive Summary on disabled customer’s research
HMRC commissioned this research to identify gaps and to explore further ways of reaching disabled customers. The primary objectives of the research were to optimise effectives of help and support services, explore and prioritise all routes of access, understand the barriers faced by disabled customers of HMRC and explore how HMRC can best support disabled customers by making services accessible, useful and desirable to use.
- No.84 - A qualitative investigation of the childcare element of Working Tax Credit
HMRC commissioned independent research to explore claimants' knowledge and understanding of the childcare element (CCE) of Working Tax Credit (WTC) and the role the CCE plays in decisions relating to work and childcare. Qualitative interviews were carried out with recipients of CCE. The research explored the experience of claiming CCE. The impact that CCE had on ability to work, working patterns and choice of formal over informal childcare were also considered.
- No.83 - Research to explore tax credit claimants’ experiences of the Assisted Claims pilots Levels 2 and 3
HMRC commissioned independent research in 2008 to explore the views and experiences of the customers who took part in a pilot designed to help customers claiming tax credits for the first time. In total, six levels of assistance were offered on the pilot. This report outlines findings from research on two of the six levels - Level 2 where customers were invited to call HMRC back once they received the claim form and level 3 where HMRC arranged to call customers back when they had received the claim form.
- No.82 - Qualitative research on tax credits customers’ experience and views of the health check pilot
In 2008, HMRC piloted a process whereby it contacted customers proactively in order to carry out a 'health check' on their award details. This report contains the findings of qualitative research HMRC commissioned as part of the evaluation of the pilot.
- No. 81 Claimants’ experiences of tax credits reach out renewals pilot
In August 2007, HMRC piloted the Reach out Renewals Service Improvement Module to help claimants renew their award on the telephone. HMRC commissioned independent research to find out about claimants' experience of the pilot and about their understanding of the tax credits renewal process in general.
- No.80 Claimants’ experiences of aligned tax credit and child benefit service relating to reporting education status
Claimants of tax credits and Child Benefit who have a child aged 16 or over have to report changes in the young person's educational status separately to both the tax credits and Child Benefit helplines. In 2007, HMRC piloted an aligned process designed to offer claimants the opportunity to update the information on their child's education status held on the tax credits and Child Benefit records during one single telephone call. This report presents the findings of the independent qualitative research HMRC commissioned to explore claimants' experiences and views of the aligned process. Claimants' views of the alignment of other Child Benefit and tax credits processes were also explored in the study.
- No.79 - Claimants’ experiences of aligning child tax credit and child benefit notification processes for births and their wider views of alignment and data sharing
Claimants of tax credits and Child Benefit have to report the birth of a new baby to both the tax credits and Child Benefit helplines. In 2007, HMRC piloted an aligned process which offered claimants the opportunity to report the new birth to both the Child Benefit and tax credits systems in one telephone call. This report presents the findings of independent qualitative research HMRC commissioned to explore the experiences and views of both the aligned and non-aligned processes of reporting the birth of a new baby. The extent to which claimants would like to see an aligned service extended to other changes of circumstances was also explored in the study.
- No.78 - Tax Credits and household break-ups
In 2007 HMRC piloted a simplified process for handling the application of tax credits claims from customers who have had household break up. This report details the findings of the qualitative research HMRC commissioned as part of the evaluation of the pilot. The research included two groups of customers, those who experienced the pilot process and those from a 'control' group whose claims were processed using the then existing process.
- No.53 - Exploring claimants’ understanding of tax credits system and the process of reporting changes of circumstance
- No.52 - Claimants’ understanding and experience of tax credits renewal process
HMRC commissioned this research to find out more about claimants understanding of the renewals process and what factors contributed to on-time and late renewals.
Appendices are also available @ www.hmrc.gov.uk/research/report52.htm
- No.49 - Exploring the key influences on Tax Credits Claimant population
HMRC commissioned independent research to explore the experiences and attitudes of a wide range of tax credits claimants in order to determine whether it was possible to group claimants by shared experiences and behaviours to tailor services in a more sensitive way.
- No. 48 - Research to explore the feasibility of collecting in-year estimates of income from tax credits claimants
HMRC commissioned independent research to investigate how willing and able tax credits recipients were to provide an estimate of their household income prior to receiving their P60s at the end of the tax year, and how accurate this estimate was.
- No.47 - The Disability Element of Working Tax Credit
HMRC commissioned independent research to examine the experiences and characteristics of people who receive, or are eligible to receive, the disability element of Working Tax Credit (WTC).
Working Families’ Tax Credit
The following research reports were funded by HMRC and relate to the Working Families’ Tax Credit system and the Disabled Person’s Tax Credit that existed prior to April 2003.
- No.1 Working Families’ Tax Credit: a review of the evidence, issues and prospects for further research
- No.3 Working Families’ Tax Credit and Disabled Person’s Tax Credit the views, attitudes and experiences of employers
- No.4 Working Families’ Tax Credit and Disabled Person’s Tax Credit: A survey of employers
- No.5 Evaluation of the Disabled Person’s Tax Credit
- No.6 Evaluation of the Disabled Person’s Tax Credit
- No.7 The childcare element of Working Families’ Tax Credit
Updated 17 May 2016