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Child Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit is paid to help people with the costs of bringing up a child. It is being replaced by Universal Credit so only some people can still claim Child Tax Benefit.

1. What is Child Tax Credit?

Child Tax Credit is paid to help people with the costs of bringing up a child.  Child Tax Credit is being replaced by Universal Credit.  Please go to 'Can I get Child Tax Credit?' for information on who can still claim.

Child Tax Credit is made up of various elements: a family element; a child element; and a disabled child element.  

You can normally only get the child element for up to two children. You can only get money for a third (or more) child if they:

  • were born before 6 April 2017; or
  • they qualify for an exception

Only one household can get Child Tax Credit for each child.

You don’t need to be working to claim Child Tax Credit.

Child Tax credit does not include any help with the costs of childcare. If you are working and you are on a low income, you may be entitled to Working Tax Credit and this benefit can include help with childcare costs.

How much Child Tax Credit you get depends on your income and circumstances, for example if your child is disabled.

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


Applies to: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Age rules: You can get Child Tax Credit if you are 16 or over.

If you are under 16 your parents, or someone who is responsible for you, could include you and your child in their own claim.

Type of benefit: Means tested

Taxable: No

Administered by: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

 

Updated: December 2018

2. Can I get Child Tax Credit?

Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit

Child Tax Credit is being replaced by Universal Credit.  You will only able to get Child Tax Credit in the situation listed below.  Otherwise if you try to make a new claim for Child Tax Credit you would be required to claim Universal Credit instead. If you or your partner are receiving a legacy benefit such as Housing Benefit, you will lose this if you make a claim for Universal Credit.

You can find out whether you can make a claim for Child Tax Credit by using our Benefits Calculator or by seeking advice.  You can find an advice agency in your area by using our Find-an-adviser tool.   Read more about Universal Credit on our website. 

If you are on Child Tax Credit and your situation stays the same, you won’t have to claim Universal Credit, at present.  The government won’t start transferring people over to Universal Credit until July 2019, and aim to complete this process by December 2023.

Who can get Child Tax Credit?

You can get Child Tax Credit in the following situation:

  • You are on Tax Credits (Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit) at present, unless you try to claim another legacy benefit or Universal Credit.

In addition:

  • you are 16 or over, and
  • you are responsible for at least one child.

The child must be:

You can find out more about what you need to do when your child turns 16 on the Child Tax Credit when your child reaches 16 page of the gov.uk website

If you have a child aged between 16 and 19 included in your Child Tax Credit claim, make sure that you tell HMRC each year by 31 August whether they are still in relevant education or approved training. If you don't, the child will be removed from your claim and your award will be reduced or stopped.

What happens to my Child Tax Credit if I start a new relationship?

If you claimed Tax Credits as a single person and you later have a partner who joins your household, you will have to close down your single claim for Tax Credits.  If you then make a new joint claim for Tax Credits, you will instead be required to claim Universal Credit.

What happens to my Child Tax Credit if I separate from my partner?

If you made a joint claim for Tax Credits as a couple and you later separate, you will have to close down your joint claim for Tax Credits.  If you then make a new single claim for Tax Credits, you will instead be required to claim Universal Credit.

 

Updated: February 2019

3. How much Child Tax Credit will I get?

It is complicated to work out how much Child Tax Credit you might get.

A maximum amount is made up of different parts based on your personal circumstances:

  • Family Element if you are responsible for a child or qualifying young person born before 6 April 2017
  • Child Element for your first and second child or qualifying young person (and any other children born before 6 April 2017 or who qualify for an exception to the Two Child Limit)
  • Disabled Child element if your child or qualifying young person is disabled (paid at either the disabled child rate or severely disabled child rate depending on what disability benefits you receive for your child).

This amount is then compared to your annual income. Savings do not affect your claim but interest from savings is included as income.

Our Benefits Calculator can calculate how much Child Tax Credit you may be entitled to.

Benefit Cap

Child Tax Credit is included in the Benefit Cap which limits the total amount in some benefits that working-age people can receive. You can read more about the Benefit Cap in our Benefit Cap guide.

Two Child Limit

From 6 April 2017, the number of Child Elements that are included in your Child Tax Credit is limited to two children for children born on or after 6 April 2017. You will get the child element for all children born before 6 April 2017.

If you have or become responsible for a third (or more) child born on or after 6 April 2017, you will not get a Child Element for them unless an exception applies. You can read about the exceptions to the Two Child Limit on our Two Child Limit Exception page. If you think an exception might apply you should claim it as soon as possible, as HMRC say they will only backdate it one month from when you tell them an exception applies.

Remember to tell HMRC about all of your children even if you will not receive a Child Element for them. You may still get other elements for them like the Disabled Child element or the Childcare element of Working Tax Credit.

How will I be paid Child Tax Credit?

Child Tax Credit will be paid directly into your Bank, Building Society or Post Office account or by Simple Payment if you are unable to open or manage one of these or a similar account.

Child Tax Credit is usually paid every four weeks. However, you can ask HMRC to pay it to you weekly.

Child Tax Credit and other benefits

Child Tax Credit does not count as income for:

Child Tax Credit only counts as income for Housing Benefit if you are not getting any of the above benefits.

You cannot get Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit at the same time.

 

Reviewed July 2017

4. How do I claim Child Tax Credit?

To make a new claim for Tax Credits, you have to complete a claim form. You can ask for a claim form by contacting the HMRC Tax Credits by phone or online.

If you are already claiming Tax Credits and you need to change your claim, for example because you are receiving Working Tax Credit and want to claim Child Tax Credit, you can contact HMRC Tax Credits by phone or manage your Tax Credits online.

Remember that your Tax Credits claim has to be renewed every year by 31 July. If you do not renew your claim, your Tax Credit payments may stop and you may have to pay some Tax Credits back. Find out more about Tax Credit renewals on the How to Renew your Tax Credits page of the gov.uk website.

Assisted Claims Service for foster carers

An assisted claims service for foster carers who wish to claim tax credits is available. Contact the Tax Credits Helpline for more information.

What documents will I need to claim Child Tax Credit?

When you make a claim for Child Tax Credit, you may be asked for:

  • Your national insurance number. If you do not have a national insurance number, send in the claim form anyway to avoid delays. 
  • Proof of your identity, for example birth certificate, passport or driving licence. 
  • Proof of your annual income, for example, P60, bank statements or pay slips.

If you qualify for an exception to the Two Child Limit, you may also be asked for other documents, for example:

  • Adoption certificate
  • Social worker’s declaration (for kinship care placements)
  • Support worker’s declaration (for children conceived as a result of rape)

Read more about how to qualify for an exception to the Two Child Limit on the gov.uk website.

When will my Child Tax Credit claim begin?

Your Child Tax Credit claim will not start until your completed form has been received by HMRC. It is important that you get your completed form in as soon as possible so you don’t lose out.

Child Tax Credit can be backdated for up to 31 days if you would have been entitled to it earlier.  It does not matter why your claim is late. You can request a backdate by including a letter with your claim form. Most backdating for Child Tax Credit happens automatically.  The notes that come with the claim form explain when you will need to send a letter asking for the extra 31 days backdating.

Change of circumstances

Child Tax Credit is paid on a year by year basis but it is very important to tell HMRC about changes in your circumstances during the year which could affect the money you get. You must tell them about some changes within one month.

You can read more about changes of circumstances on the Changes that affect your Tax Credits page of the gov.uk website

You can report changes of circumstances by sending a letter to HMRC, phoning HMRC or online.

 

Reviewed; July 2017

5. How do I challenge a Child Tax Credit decision?

If you disagree with the decision made on your claim you can usually ask for it to be looked at again known as a 'mandatory reconsideration'. If you still disagree with the further decision you can then appeal to an independent tribunal.

The time limits are strict, you will usually be given 30 days to challenge a decision, so it is important to seek advice and act quickly.

Further information on Challenges and complaints

 

Reviewed July 2017