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Check if you can get child tax credits

This advice applies to England

You can only make a new claim for child tax credits if:

  • you or your partner get the severe disability premium included in your current benefit

  • you or your partner got the severe disability premium included in your benefit in the past month

  • your benefit has stopped in the past month but you or your partner are still entitled to the severe disability premium

  • you’re getting working tax credits

To find out if you get the severe disability premium, check the letter that tells you how much benefit you get.

If you don’t get the severe disability premium and you’re below your state pension age, you should apply for Universal Credit.

If you’ve reached your state pension age, you can’t make a new claim for child tax credits even if you get the severe disability premium. You should check if you can get pension credit. If you get pension credit, you’ll receive extra payment for each child you’re responsible for.

You can check your state pension age on GOV.UK.

If you were already getting child tax credits before 1 February 2019, you’ll continue to get them unless your circumstances have changed.

If you get the severe disability premium

You can usually get child tax credits for each child or young person you’re responsible for until the 31 August after they turn 16.

The amount of money you get depends on:

  • how many children you have
  • when they were born
  • whether you already get child tax credits

The child you’re responsible for will need to be either under 16 or between 16 and 20 and in full-time approved education or training.

A 16-year old who’s not in approved education or training is considered a young person until the 31 August after they turn 16 unless:

  • they work 24 or more hours a week

  • they’re entitled to income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance, Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance

You can get an extra amount of tax credits for your child if they are disabled - it doesn't matter when they were born.

If your child is 16 or older

You can claim for a child until they turn 20 if they stay in approved education, training and aren’t:

  • getting benefits themselves, for example Universal Credit
  • married, in a civil partnership or living with their partner
  • working in a paid job for 24 or more hours a week and have left education

If your child leaves education before they’re 18 and registers with a careers service or joins the Armed Forces, you can get tax credits for 20 weeks if they’re:

  • 16 or 17 years old
  • working less than 24 hours a week
  • not getting benefits themselves, for example Income Support

Tell HMRC if you’re getting tax credits and any of these things change - you might be paid too much if you don’t.

If you get other benefits

Tax credits can have a knock-on effect on other benefits you claim. This means claiming tax credits could leave you worse off.

If you're over 18, you can use the Turn2us benefits calculator to check if it’s worth claiming tax credits. You’ll need to enter details of the other benefits you claim.

If you’d rather speak to someone in person, contact your nearest Citizens Advice. An adviser can help you work out if claiming tax credits would leave you better off.

If you get help with childcare costs

You can't get tax-free childcare at the same time as child tax credits.

If you use the childcare voucher scheme, it won't affect your child tax credits claim.

You can check what help you can get with childcare costs on GOV.UK.

If you’re from the EU or European Economic Area

You’ll need to prove different things about your life here if you’re from the EU or Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (the EEA). You’ll need to do this if you’re from Switzerland too.

You’ll need to give evidence to show:

  • you’ve lived in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for the last 3 months - this is called the ‘3-month living in test’
  • you have a right to claim benefits in the UK - this is called a ‘right to reside’ and depends on things like your work, family and personal situation

Check if you have a right to reside

It’s best to check if you have a right to reside first. If you have a right to reside, you might not need to show you’re habitually resident.

If your client is subject to immigration control 

The conditions of your client’s stay in the UK will be in the most recent Home Office immigration stamp on their passport - check if your client is subject to immigration control.

If the stamp says ‘no recourse to public funds’, they won’t be able to claim tax credits unless they meet specific conditions. These are listed in the Home Office guidance on public funds.

Put your client in touch with an immigration specialist before going any further - their right to stay in the UK might be affected if they apply.

Unaccompanied child refugees who have been granted leave under section 67 of the Immigration Act will have access to child tax credits.

Work out how many children you can claim tax credits for

If your children were all born before 6 April 2017, you can claim child tax credits for each child.

If your first or second child was born on or after 6 April 2017, you can claim child tax credits for them.

If your third child or any later child was born on or after 6 April 2017, you can't usually get child tax credits for them. You should still let HMRC know about them.

There are some exceptions - you might still get a payment for 3 or more children if:

  • your third or later child is disabled - they must get Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or be certified blind

  • you have a multiple birth - if you have other children born before 6 April 2017 you won't get a payment for the first child in a multiple birth

  • you’ve adopted a child from the UK (unless you were the child's step-parent immediately before adopting them)

  • you’re caring for someone else's child in a formal care arrangement

  • you’re caring for someone else’s child in an informal arrangement where otherwise they’d be in care

  • you have a child from a pregnancy that was from rape or a controlling relationship - find out how to report this and get help if you need it

  • you’re responsible for a child under 16 who has their own child and they both live with you

Check the exceptions and how to apply for them on GOV.UK.

Philip has 3 children who were all born before 6 April 2017. He gets child tax credits for all of them. He'll keep getting the same amount because they were all born before 6 April 2017.

Yasmin has 2 children who were both born before 6 April 2017 and she gets child tax credits for both of them. She's expecting another baby, due after 6 April 2017. She won't get child tax credits for her baby because it's her third child.

Jane gets tax credits for 1 child who was born before 6 April 2017. She’s expecting twins due after 6 April 2017. She’ll get child tax credits for both of them when they’re born.

Who counts as responsible for a child or young person

You’re responsible for a child if they either:

  • live with you all the time
  • usually live with you and you’re their main carer

If you share responsibility for a child, for example if you and your partner are separated, only one of you can claim child tax credits. This should be the person who is mainly responsible for the child.

If one parent spends more on childcare, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re mainly responsible. The person who looks after the child most of the time should claim.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you can’t decide who should claim tax credits - an adviser can help you decide.

If you're a foster carer

You can’t claim child tax credits for a foster child if you get a fostering allowance, or the child’s maintenance or accommodation is paid for by someone other than yourself.

If you aren’t sure, call the tax credits helpline on 0345 300 3900 to check.

Checking you’re below the income limit

You don’t need to be working to claim child tax credits, but if you are you need to earn less than a certain amount.

The amount you can earn depends on your circumstances. HMRC looks at things like:

  • the number of hours you work
  • how many children you have
  • if you’re a single parent

If you're over 18, you can use the Turn2us benefits calculator to check if you can get child tax credits.

If you’re part of a couple

If you’re in a couple, you’ll need to make a joint claim with your partner. You’re counted as a couple if you’re married or in a civil partnership, or if you live together.

If you’re temporarily separated, but still legally married, you’ll need to make a joint claim. HMRC treats you as a couple unless you’re either:

  • divorced
  • legally separated under a court order
  • permanently separated - ie you don’t plan to get back together

Check if you can get other benefits

If you can get child tax credits you might also be able to get other benefits. If you're over 18, you can use the Turn2Us benefits calculator to check which benefits you can get.

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