Tax credits are payments from the Government that go straight into your bank account. There are two types of tax credit; working tax credits and child tax credits. The latter is a available to anyone with an income up to £35,000, the former is designed to assist those on low incomes. You don’t need to be working to claim child tax credits, although the amount you can claim is determined by the amount you earn and the number of children you have.
You can claim child tax credits for any child until the date of August 31 after their 16th birthday. If the child is a new baby, you may be able to backdate the credits to the date of their birth, but to do this you’ll need to claim within one month of their birth. If you have children aged over 16, you can still claim tax credits if the child is in education, such as studying for A-Levels or a vocational foundation course. You can also claim child tax credits if you have a son or daughter aged up to 20 who is in vocational training.
Guardians and legally responsible adults
You do not need to be the child’s legal parent to claim tax credits. If you are the legal guardian, you are entitled to claim on the same basis as a resident parent. In order to determine whether you have responsibility for the child, you may be asked to demonstrate the child normally lives with you, keeps their toys and clothes at your home and relies on you to provide their meals. In cases where you’re temporarily legally responsible for a child, for example if you’re housing a foreign exchange student, you are ineligible for child tax credits because they are only in the UK for their education.
You can claim child tax credit if your child does not permanently live with you, but only if the child’s other parent is not claiming. No more than one household may claim tax credits for the same child. If your child doesn’t live with you at all, you are not eligible for child tax credits, even if you pay maintenance and the other parent is not claiming tax credits.
Adoptive and foster parents
If your are already in receipt of payments from your local authority or from the Health and Social Services Board in respect of your status as adoptive or foster parent, you may not be eligible for child tax credits. To find out whether you are eligible under these circumstances, contact the Tax Credit Helpline.