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How to claim working and child tax credits

This advice applies to Scotland

Universal Credit has replaced tax credits for most people making a new claim. Make sure you check if you can still get Working Tax Credits before you try to claim.

The application process is the same for working and child tax credits, but you might not be eligible for both.

Making a claim

You can make a claim for working tax credits by phoning the HMRC tax credits helpline. You should do this as soon as you can as it can take up to 6 weeks to process your claim.

HMRC tax credits helpline

Telephone: 0345 300 3900
Textphone: 0345 300 3909
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday, 8am to 4pm
Sunday, 9am to 5pm

Calls cost up to 45p a minute from mobiles and up to 12p a minute from landlines. It should be free if you call from your mobile and have landline calls included in your contract.

Make a note of the date and time you call. Also write down the name of the person you spoke to and the HMRC office they work in - for example Preston or Belfast. You might need these details later in your application. 

Before you apply

Before you call it’s a good idea to gather all the documents you need.

You’ll need to answer some questions about how much you earn each year. To work this out, look at:

  • your payslips
  • your P60 or P45
  • other income, such as money you get from a pension, savings or property

HMRC use this information to work out your tax credits so they might ask you for copies of these documents.

If you’re self-employed

Your income is based on your profits. For help with this, see how to claim tax credits if you’re self-employed.

If you’re applying for someone else

To apply for tax credits for someone else, you’ll need to apply to become a tax credits ‘appointee’. You can find out how to become an appointee on GOV.UK

As an appointee, any tax credits will be paid straight into your bank account. You’ll also need to:

You’ll need to tell the Tax Credit Office if you want to stop being an appointee.

If you’re part of a couple

You’ll need to make a joint claim for tax credits if you’re married, in a civil partnership or living with your partner. 

HMRC looks at both you and your partner’s income to make a decision about your claim, so you’ll need to give your partner’s details as well as your own.

Making a joint claim affects how much you’ll get. If you don't give the correct information, for example if you make a claim as a single person when actually you're part of a couple, HMRC might ask you to pay back tax credits in the future.

Call the tax credits helpline or contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re not sure whether you need to make a joint claim.

If you have children 

If they were born before April 6 2017, you can get child tax credits for each person you’re responsible for until they’re 16, or until they’re 20 if they stay in full-time education or approved training. If you have any children after 6 April 2017, you can usually only get child tax credits for them if they're your first or second child. Universal Credit has replaced child tax credits for most people, you should check if you can get child tax credits before you apply.

If you share care of your children with another person, for example their other parent, the person who spends most time looking after the children should claim.

You can get extra tax credits to help with childcare costs for any children under 15, as long as your childcare provider is registered and approved. Make sure your childcare provider is registered and approved on the Scottish Care Inspectorate website.

You'll need to give details of your childcare provider, including their registration number. 

If you aren’t sure whether your childcare provider is registered and approved, contact your nearest Citizens Advice - an adviser can help you find out.

Working out your income

HMRC uses your income for the previous tax year to calculate your tax credits - this is what you earned for the 12 months up to 5 April. If you’re making a joint claim, your partner needs to give the details of their income too.

To work out your income, start with the ‘total for year’ amount on your P60 End of Year Certificate, then add any:

  • interest on savings or pensions
  • money from state benefits, like Jobseeker’s Allowance or Carer’s Allowance

If you had income from statutory paternity, maternity or adoption pay in the previous tax year, subtract £100 for each week you spent on leave.

If you currently earn over £2,500 more than you did in the last tax year, for example if you've had a pay rise, you should ask HMRC to use your estimated income from the current tax year instead. This is because you might be paid too much if HMRC use your previous tax year, and you might have to pay the money back.

Getting help with making your claim

You can get extra help with the claim process from HMRC if you find it difficult because:

  • you’re deaf or hearing-impaired
  • you’re blind or partially-sighted
  • English isn’t your first language

Find support options for your needs on GOV.UK.

If your disability makes any part of the claim process difficult, HMRC should make adjustments for you. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help arranging this.

What happens next

HMRC might ask you for evidence to support your claim - for example proof of earnings. You’ll get a letter from HMRC if they need more evidence from you. You can send your evidence by post or electronically on GOV.UK.

Most new claims take 6 weeks or less from start to finish. If your claim is successful, your tax credits will be paid every 4 weeks into the bank account you put on the claim form. In some cases, HMRC can pay them every 2 weeks instead - call the tax credits helpline to request this.

Once you start claiming tax credits, it’s important that you let HMRC know within 1 month about any changes that could affect your claim. If you don’t let HMRC know about a change you might get overpayments, which you’d need to pay back later.

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