Why do you have to renew tax credits?
Unlike other benefits, tax credits usually have to be renewed each year, as how much money you get depends on how much money you earned the year before.
The year’s dates are based on the tax year, which runs from 6 April-5 April the following year. So, how much you’re paid in 2018-2019 will depend on what you earned in 2017-2018.
Not everyone has to renew their tax credits every year - but HMRC will tell you if you do. If you already claim tax credits, you’ll receive a renewal pack between April and July.
If the pack just says ‘check now’: all you need to do is see whether your details are correct. If they are you don’t need to do anything, as your tax credits will be automatically renewed. If any information is wrong, let HMRC know.
If there is a red line across the first page and it says ‘reply now’: you’ll have to submit your information. Make sure you renew by 31 July or you might miss out on your payments.
How to renew tax credits
The first thing you’ll need is your renewal form. If you haven’t received it by July, contact the tax credits helpline on 0345 300 3900.
You can either fill out the forms and send them in the post, renew over the phone by calling HMRC, or use the online renewal service and fill out your information there - but you’ll need a Government Gateway account to do this.
You’ll need the following information to renew your tax credits, so it’s a good idea to have it to hand before you get started:
- Your National Insurance number
- Details about any changes to your circumstances - eg if your salary has changed
- The 15-digit reference number on your renewal pack
- Your total income for the last tax year. If you’re applying for tax credits as a couple, you’ll also need to provide how much your partner earned, too.
Once you’ve renewed, the tax credit office will be in touch to let you know how much you’ll be paid in tax credits next year - this should be within eight weeks of them receiving your renewal.
If you have problems renewing your tax credits, contact HMRC online or call 0345 300 3900.
Find out more: what are tax credits?
Failure to renew tax credits
If you miss the 31 July deadline to renew, your tax credit payments will stop. There might not be much you can do about it unless you have a good reason for being late.
What’s more, HMRC may also recover any tax credit payments made to you between April and September, as you will have lost your right to the payments for the entire current tax year.
If you feel you had a good reason for being late, contact HMRC to explain. If it accepts your reason, you may be given until 31 January to renew - but it’s at HMRC's discretion.
Not having accurate figures for how much you earn is not a valid excuse for missing the deadline. If you’re not sure, you can use estimated figures when you renew your tax credits. However, you’ll need to provide the accurate amounts by 31 January the following year.
Find out more: tax credit overpayments
If your circumstances have changed
You shouldn’t wait until you renew your tax credits to let HMRC know if your circumstances have changed - you must tell HMRC within a month of certain changes happening, or risk a fine of up to £300.
These changes include:
- Relationship changes - if you’re now living with someone, have got married or are in a civil partnership, or were claiming as a couple and have split up - HMRC needs to know.
- Job changes - you must tell HMRC if you stop working, the number of hours you’re working changes, you’ve been on strike for more than 10 days or you lose your right to work or live in the UK.
- Childcare cost changes - if your childcare costs stop or go down by more than £10 a week for at least four consecutive weeks, you must inform HMRC. The same goes if a child or young person you’re responsible for moves out, starts to claim their own benefits, or starts or leaves full time education or approved training, or starts paid work for more than 24 hours a week.
If you give HMRC the wrong information, you could be charged up to £3,000.
If you experience any changes to your circumstances that aren’t listed, but could have an effect on how much tax credits you get paid, contact HMRC as soon as possible, just in case.
Find out more: tax credit and change in circumstances
If you claim Universal Credit
Universal Credit is a new government benefits model that will eventually replace working tax credit and child tax credits - plus several other means-tested benefits - over the coming months.
It’s been estimated that everyone who currently claims tax credits will be moved onto Universal Credit by July 2019. But as it’s being rolled out gradually, it may be introduced in your area before then.
If you’re already on Universal Credit, you cannot apply for working tax credits or child tax credits, as the payment for both of these should be included in your Universal Credit payment.