CLAIM TAX CREDITS: Use this guide to find out how to claim tax credits until you qualify to claim Universal Credit.
Making a Claim for Tax Credits
New claimants for tax credits should order a claim form by (either):
As a general rule, the claim form will take up to two (2) weeks to arrive.
The claim form is not for informing the Tax Credit Office about changes that affect your tax credits. Singles can apply for tax credits as well as a couple for a ‘joint claim’.
Note: As a benefit claimant, you cannot get Tax Credits and claim for Universal Credit at the same time.
Information Needed When You Call
What happens when you call to ask for a claim form? The Tax Credits Office want some basic information from you before they send the form.
The details you provide helps them to gather an estimate of how much could get. They will ask you to confirm:
- How many hours you work each week and your income for the last tax year.
- Your National Insurance number (if applicable).
- Details of any benefits you receive and the same for any childcare payments you get.
Address to Send Tax Credits Claim Form
The address where to send the tax credits form is on the document. You can also deliver it to your Jobcentre Plus if you already have rights to benefits. Those who live in Northern Ireland should take it to their Social Security Office.
Penalties for Giving Wrong Information
Giving the wrong information can result in a penalty up to £3,000. This also applies even if you gave inaccurate details:
- By fraudulent means (meaning on purpose).
- Through negligence (meaning you did not use enough care).
Note: Making a mistake – but taking reasonable care in the provision of information – means you may not get a penalty.
Further Help for Your Application
The tax credits claim form comes with full guidance notes. Further advice is also available from the Tax Credit Helpline or your benefits office. Another person can call the helpline on your behalf.
But, to discuss your claim, the person will need to apply for authorisation. They will need to become an appointee to manage payments for you and on your behalf.
When to Claim Tax Credits
A claim for tax credits can take place at any time of the year. But, you should apply as soon as you know that you qualify. That is the best way to get all the money that your entitlement allows.
What if you know that your income is going to drop? In this case, apply straight away. Do not delay if you know your income will go down to a level that qualifies you for tax credits.
Note: As a rule, tax credits get backdated up to thirty one (31) days from the start of your claim.
Joint Claim Tax Credits
A single person or a couple can apply for tax credits. Each claimant’s age must be at least 16 and you must be living in the United Kingdom. Applying as a couple is also called ‘making a joint claim‘.
As a rule you must make a joint claim tax credits if you:
- Are married or living in a civil partnership (not permanently or legally separated).
- Live with your partner as though you are either married or together in a civil partnership.
- Are living away from one another temporarily (an example could be while looking after a relative or working overseas for the UK government for less than 2 months).
You may need to make a joint claim if you and your partner are not married (or in a civil partnership). So, these cases include situations when:
- Sometimes you both live in the same house or you have dependent children.
- You both have a joint financial agreement.
There are some exceptions. The criteria for making a tax credits joint claim is not only that you have a partner. So, you should make a single claim tax credits if:
- You live permanently in the United Kingdom but your partner lives abroad and you have no children.
- You live in the United Kingdom but your partner and children all live outside the EEA or Switzerland (unless your partner works for the UK government).
- You both live abroad; you are from the EEA or Switzerland and you work in the UK but your partner does not; and you do not have any children.
Unless you know how to claim tax credits it is a little confusing. What happens if you are not sure? Call the Tax Credit Helpline and they will give you further advice. They will help you determine whether you should make a single or joint tax credits claim.
Note: If you make the wrong sort of application you must pay back tax credits that you do not have entitlement to.
Backdating Tax Credits Claims
As a rule the backdating of tax credits is automatic. They are usually backdated up to one month after you make a claim. There is no need to do anything specific about backdating a claim for tax credits.
What if You Claim other Benefits?
You will need to ask for your tax credits to get backdated if you receive:
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-based)
- Income Support
- Employment and Support Allowance (income-related)
- Pension Credit
The same applies if you did not claim any of these benefits in the last 31 days and both of the following situations apply:
- You receive Working Tax Credit.
- You are not claiming for children as part of any tax credits claim.
How Do You Backdate a Tax Credits Claim?
Use the backdate page with your tax credits claim form. Be sure to confirm:
- Your full name, address and your National Insurance number.
- The accurate date that you started work.
- The date that you first started getting one of the particular benefits listed (unless you are in work).
Backdating Tax Credits More than 1 Month
In some cases they will backdate your claim by more than a month. But, you must apply within one month of:
- Getting refugee status in the United Kingdom.
- Qualifying for certain disability or sickness benefits sickness (e.g. Personal Independence Payment).
You must wait for a decision on your disability benefits or refugee status before applying to backdate these claims.
Note: You should still apply for any other tax credits that you qualify for (e.g. if you have children).
Income Threshold for Tax Credits
As a rule, it is your income that determines what you are entitled to. In most cases it is earnings for the last tax year. Income can include:
- Wages or pay (such as your earnings before tax and National Insurance).
- Employed pay gets recorded on your P60 or payslips and on or your Self Assessment tax return for self-employed workers.
- Benefits paid by your employer (check your P9D or P11D).
- Certain benefits paid by the state in the United Kingdom.
- Money received from a pension (including the UK State Pension).
- Interest derived on savings.
- Earnings from the Rent a Room Scheme above £7,500 (or £3,750 for a joint owner).
- The income of your partner if you make a joint claim.
Note: Contact HM Revenue and Customs if you need help calculating your total income.
Money from State Benefits
Some forms of income can include money paid from UK state benefits (or foreign equivalents). The exception would be when they are ‘tax-free’ benefits. Examples of tax-free benefits include:
- Attendance Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Child Benefit
- Housing Benefit
- The foreign equivalents of UK tax-free benefits
You should keep certain documents to support your claim. Do not throw away records of your bills, tax credits, payslips, benefits, childcare and child’s education. You should keep them all for the current tax year and for at least two years before.
How to Calculate Your Hours
You should enter the usual number of weekly hours you work on your claim form. Those who have more than one job should add all the hours together. Use the expected number of hour if you recently started work.
The list shows the type of work and how to calculate your work hours.
- Employed: Include your overtime hours but do not include any unpaid breaks.
- Self-employed: Include the total time you spend on your business (after it is set up and running).
- Seasonal: Enter the number of hours you are currently working.
- Regular term-time: Enter the hours you work during the usual term time.
- Agency: You should determine your usual hours with your employer.
- On-call: Use the hours that you get called into work.
- On standby: Do not include time when you are not paid.