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Check if you can get child tax credits

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

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

Getting Universal Credit instead of tax credits 

Universal Credit is replacing tax credits in some areas of the UK. You might need to apply for Universal Credit instead of working tax credits, depending on where you live.

Check if you should apply for Universal Credit instead of tax credits on nidirect.

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.

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 find out whether you'll be better off with tax-free childcare, childcare vouchers or tax credits on GOV.UK.

If you’re not from the UK

Claiming tax credits could affect your right to stay in the UK if you’re not from a country in the European Economic Area (EEA). Contact your nearest Citizens Advice before you apply.

You can usually claim tax credits if you're from a country in the EEA and currently work in the UK.

If you're not working, you need to have lived in the UK for 3 months before you can claim. There are some exceptions to this rule - find out more on GOV.UK.

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.

Work out how many children you can claim tax credits for

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

If one or more of your children was born on or after 6 April 2017, you can only make a claim for child tax credits if they're your first or second child. There are some exceptions to this rule, for example if you're expecting twins or triplets.

There is also an exception if your child was born because of 'non-consensual conception'. This means if you were raped, or abused by the other parent of your child when you became pregnant - even if they were your partner at the time.

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.

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

Use the Turn2us benefits calculator to check if you can claim 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. Use the Turn2us benefits calculator to check.

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