Tax Credits: How to claim
To be entitled to tax credits you must claim them. There is no entitlement without a claim.
In the early years of the tax credits system, it was possible to claim online. This facility was withdrawn due to fraudulent attacks, however HMRC announced in the Autumn Statement 2016 that the online claims facility would be available again from April 2017. In the meantime, the majority of claimants need to obtain a paper claim form from HMRC, although there are some other methods of claiming that are available to certain groups of claimants which are explained below.
It should be noted that as full (digital) service Universal Credit becomes available, most people cannot make a fresh tax credit claim and will need to claim UC instead. There is more information about claiming UC in our UC section.
- Obtaining a paper claim form
- In and out of work process
- Fast track claims via Jobcentre Plus
- Tell us once telephone claims
The paper claim form is called the TC600. You can see the notes, which includes a sample of the current form, in our forms, notices and checklists section. You can obtain a claim form either online or by phone:
- Online - The paper claim form can also be requested by submitting an on-line request via GOV.UK. Anyone using this service is advised to run through either HMRC’s ‘Do I qualify’ questionnaire or HMRC’s tax credits calculator first, the on-line claim form request automatically becomes available at the end of either of those services. Even if the online calculator suggests you may not be able to claim, if you are unsure or your circumstances are complicated you may want to request a form anyway.
- Phone – You need to phone the tax credits helpline (0345 300 3900 or textphone 0345 300 3909). Some advice organisations also carry stocks of forms, although HMRC are reducing the organisations who can do so.
It is standard procedure for the Tax Credits helpline to ask for the claimant’s name, address and National Insurance number when they request a claim form. The helpline may also ask the claimant some questions to estimate what their entitlement might be. In some cases, the helpline may refuse to issue a claim form as they believe that the claimant does not meet the criteria, or the claimant does not have a national insurance number or the entitlement check shows entitlement as NIL. This should not happen and if it does full details of the date, time and operator name should be taken and used to prepare a complaint. It is not the function of the helpline to make a decision on entitlement to tax credits, especially not on the basis of a single phone call.
Security procedures -
In 2010, HMRC introduced a new security procedure whereby they require people to answer questions based on their Experian credit data. This security system is still used today.
Full details of the IDAS security procedure can be found in our dealing with HMRC section.
One point to note about the IDAS security arrangements is that it is unclear whether advisers can request paper claim forms on behalf of claimants. We are seeking confirmation from HMRC about this.
The IOW process is aimed at those claiming income-based jobseeker’s allowance and income support to enable their benefit claims to be quicker and easier when moving in and out of work.
The process was originally tested in six pilot areas from September 2007. More information about the pilots and their evaluation can be found in the DWP evaluation report. From December 2008 to March 2010, the process was rolled out nationally.
The basis of the process is that when a claimant moves from benefits into work, they will be able to end their out-of-work benefits and claim their in-work benefits in one phone call. Similarly if they stop working, the process works in reverse ensuring their in-work benefits stop when they should and enabling claims to out-of-work benefits.
The process is led by Jobcentre Plus. The claimant makes a single call to them and they take the relevant information and pass it to Local Authorities (for housing benefit and council tax benefit) and to HMRC for tax credits.
From a tax credits perspective there are some points to note:
- Jobcentre Plus will complete a TC600 tax credit claim form over the phone for anyone who comes within the scope of the IOW process and who does not already have a claim. This TC600 form will then be sent electronically to HMRC by Jobcentre Plus. The claimant will then be asked to sign their first award notice. It is important to note that claimants do not automatically receive a copy of the claim form notes during this process.
- If a claimant is already receiving tax credits, Jobcentre Plus will carry out a three-way telephone call with the claimant and HMRC to amend the tax credits claim.
A fast track process is in place between Jobcentre Plus and HMRC for certain types of claim. Historically this included anyone moving from a Jobcentre Plus benefit into work, or for those claiming a Jobcentre Plus benefit making a claim for child tax credit. The In and Out of Work process has meant the fast track is no longer needed for many of these claims.
However, there are still some customers of Jobcentre Plus who will still require a claim for tax credits and who cannot be helped through the In and Out of Work process.
In particular the process can be used for refugees who wish to claim tax credits, one of the benefits being that Jobcentre Plus can verify documentation which should ensure the claim is put into payment more quickly.
The process is manual and requires Jobcentre Plus to complete a TC600 claim form and send it with a pro-forma to a specialist unit in HMRC. This means that it should be dealt with much quicker than the normal HMRC channels, although it should be noted that the claim may still be subject to various pre-award checks. HMRC guidance suggests that claims should be put into payment within 7 working days.
This can be a useful process for vulnerable claimants and Jobcentre Plus staff should be reminded of the process to ensure it is used in appropriate cases. There is some HMRC guidance about the process on their website, although this makes reference to an E-Portal that is no longer in use. The process is clerical as described above.
The ‘Tell us Once’ service for reporting a death has been available in most areas since 2011. Initially used for reporting deaths, in some areas it does cover births as well. If someone reports a death to a registrar and wants to take part in Tell us Once. Information about the death with be passed to HMRC for tax credits purposes.
Part of the service includes the registrar helping new parents fill in their child benefit claim form. In addition, parents who are on certain income-based benefits will be given a special phone number for HMRC Tax Credit Office which will allow them to make a fast track claim over the phone. More information about the process for births is available in the HMRC manual.
Updated 6 September 2017