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(Court of Appeal, Ward, Lloyd, Rafferty LLJ, 5 November 2012)
The father appealed a maintenance assessment in respect of his two children which increased his weekly contribution on the basis that the father's lifestyle was inconsistent with his stated income. The father and mother appealed, respectively, on the grounds that the alteration should not have been made and that the increase should have been higher.
The Upper Tribunal granted permission to appeal on the limited ground that the First-tier Tribunal had been entitled to go behind the figures supplied by the father and make its own finding of fact. On that ground permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal was granted.
The words in the Child Support (Maintenance Assessments and Special Cases) Regulations 1992 had an ordinary and natural meaning and the contrary position that the decision maker was bound to accept the information placed before it or even the information supplied by the HMRC was far from conclusive. The tribunal had been entitled to rely on an evaluation of the father's actual profits from self-employment in the relevant period rather than the figures submitted to HMRC in his tax return.
The child support officer had a responsibility to deduct income tax and National Insurance contributions payable on that level of profits it he was going to increase the profit above that accepted by the Revenue. The matter would be remitted to the Secretary of State for a recalculation of the child support assessment in respect of tax and National Insurance deductions.
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