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How to claim tax credits

How to claim tax credits

1. How to claim

You’ll need to answer a few questions before you can order a tax credits claim form. You can do this by:

  • using the online tool
  • calling the Tax Credit Office

If it looks like you qualify, you’ll be able to order a claim form. It will take up to 2 weeks for the form to arrive.

You don’t need a claim form to tell the Tax Credit Office about a change in your circumstances.

You can’t claim tax credits and Universal Credit at the same time.

If you call

If you call the Tax Credit Office, you’ll be asked for some information and given an estimate of how much you’ll get. You may be asked for:

  • your National Insurance number (if you have one)
  • your income for the last tax year
  • details of any benefits you get
  • details of any childcare payments
  • the number of hours you work per week

You could be fined up to £3,000 if you give wrong information carelessly or on purpose.

Get help with your application

You’ll be sent guidance notes with your claim form. You can also get help from the Tax Credit Helpline, your benefits office or from Citizens Advice.

Someone else can call the helpline to get general advice on your behalf, but they’ll need to apply for authorisation to discuss your claim. If you want them to manage your payments, they’ll have to become an ‘appointee’.

2. When to claim

Apply as soon as you know you’re eligible so you get all the money you’re entitled to.

You can claim tax credits at any time of year.

If you know your income will go down

Apply straight away if you know your income will drop to a level that means you’ll be eligible for tax credits.

For example, you could make a claim now if you found out your income is going to drop in 6 months’ time.

The income levels for Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are different.

Usually, tax credits are backdated by up to 31 days from the start of your claim.

3. Joint claims

You can apply for tax credits as a single person, or as a couple (known as a ‘joint claim’) if you’re both 16 or over and living in the UK.

Usually, you must make a joint claim if:

  • you’re married or in a civil partnership (and not permanently or legally separated)
  • you live with your partner as though you’re married or in a civil partnership
  • you’re temporarily living away from one another, for example looking after a relative or working abroad for the government for less than 8 weeks

You might also need to make a joint claim if you and your partner are not married or in a civil partnership, but:

  • sometimes live in the same house
  • have a joint financial agreement
  • have dependent children


You don’t always make a joint claim because you have a partner. For example, make a single claim if:

  • you live in the UK but your partner lives abroad and you don’t have any children
  • you live in the UK but your partner and children live outside the EEA or Switzerland (unless your partner works for the government)
  • you both live abroad, you’re from the EEA or Switzerland and you work in the UK but your partner doesn’t, and you have no children

If you’re not sure

Call the Tax Credit Helpline to find out if you should make a joint claim.

You must pay back any tax credits you’re not entitled to if you don’t make the right sort of application.

4. Backdate a claim

When you make a claim, your tax credits are usually backdated automatically by up to 31 days. You don’t have to do anything.

If you’re claiming other benefits

You have to ask for your tax credits to be backdated if you get:

  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income-related)
  • Pension Credit

You might not get the full backdated claim if you stopped getting one of these benefits in the last 31 days and you’re claiming both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.

Backdating by more than 31 days

Tax credit claims can sometimes be backdated by more than 31 days if you:

  • apply within a month of getting refugee status
  • apply within 31 days of qualifying for certain sickness or disability benefits, such as Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment

Don’t apply to backdate these claims until you’ve been given a decision on your refugee status or disability benefits.

You should still apply for other tax credits if you already qualify for them, for example if you have children.

How to backdate a claim

Include a page with your claim form confirming:

  • your name, address and National Insurance number
  • the date you started work
  • the date you started getting one of the benefits listed, if you’re not in work
  • the date you got a decision on your refugee status or disability benefits – if you’re applying to backdate by more than 31 days

5. What counts as income

Usually, what you’re entitled to is based on your income for the last tax year (6 April 2016 to 5 April 2017).

Income includes:

  • pay – your earnings before tax and National Insurance (check your P60 or payslips if you’re employed, or your Self Assessment tax return if you’re self-employed)
  • benefits from your employer (check your P11D)
  • certain state benefits
  • money from a pension – including your State Pension
  • interest on savings
  • your partner’s income – if you make a joint claim

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has detailed guidance if you need help working out your income.


Income includes money from UK state benefits (or their foreign equivalents) unless they’re ‘tax-free’ benefits. Tax-free benefits include:

  • Child Benefit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • the foreign equivalents of UK tax-free benefits

To support your claim, keep records of your income, bills, payslips, benefits, tax credits, childcare and child’s education for the current tax year and at least 2 years before that.

6. Work out your hours

Put the number of hours you work in a normal week on your claim form.

Add all your hours together if you have more than one job.

If you’ve just started work put the hours you expect to work.

Type of work How to work out your hours
Employed Include overtime, but not unpaid breaks
Self-employed Include all the time you spend on your business (once you’ve set it up)
Seasonal Put the hours you’re working at the moment
Regular term-time Put the hours you work during term time
Agency Decide your normal hours with your employer
On-call Only count the hours you’re called to work
On standby Don’t count the time when you’re not paid




Source by:- gov