Tax Credits: Critical dates

Tax credits, unlike other benefits, follow an annual cycle based on the tax year. Tax Credit claims last for a maximum of one tax year.

We have produced a pdf timeline of the basic tax credits annual cycle, and set out below the critical dates in the annual cycle:

These dates mark the start and finish of the UK tax year and therefore the start of the tax credits year which is aligned to it.

Tax credits claims last a maximum of one tax year, although they can be shorter depending on circumstances.

When an initial award of tax credits is made, an award notice should be issued showing the decision. If HMRC have decided not to make an award, a decision letter should be issued.

Throughout the year, and following the end of the tax year, award notices will continue to be issued when changes are made to the claim and when the claim is finalised.

Each of these notices has a 30 day appeal time limit which runs from the date on the award notice/decision letter. For decisions made on or after 6 April 2014 claimants must first request a mandatory reconsideration of the decision before the appeal can continue to Tribunal.

Once the 30 day appeal time limit has passed, there is still a possibility of requesting a reconsideration but it will be a ‘late mandatory reconsideration request’. You can find out more about late appeals in our appeals section.

Once 13 months following the date of the award notice has passed, a late appeal is no longer possible.

If the claimant is not happy with the decision made by HMRC following a request for mandatory reconsideration then they can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal within 1 month. The appeal must be lodged directly with the Tribunal and this is called ‘direct lodgement’. See our appeals section for more information.

This is the normal deadline for returning renewals forms. In some cases the renewals deadline may be different. This normally happens when the renewals notice is issued at some other time of year. In those cases the deadline will be 30 days from the date on the renewals notice.

If a claim is terminated due to non-renewal, HMRC will issue a statement of account (TC607) confirming the termination and showing any overpayment. Claimants have 30 days from the date on the statement of account to contact HMRC and complete their renewals. If they do so within this time limit, the new claim can be treated as made from the previous 6th April.

If a claim is terminated due to non-renewal and the 30 day deadline has passed for reinstating the claim, claimants may still be able to have the claim reinstated from 6 April if they had good cause for missing the deadline provided they show HMRC good cause by 31 January.

Under the legislation, a tax credit claimant who is in a UC full service area and who misses the 31 July deadline and the 30 days grace period, but who has good cause and contacts HMRC by 31 January 2019 will not have their tax credit claim accepted from previous 6 April as would be the case under normal tax credit rules. Instead they would need to claim UC and they would have an overpayment of any tax credits paid from 6 April which would need to be repaid to HMRC.

However, HMRC have told us that in practice, if good cause is present and it is before 31 January 2019, the will reinstate the tax credit claim back to 6 April and for the full tax year even if the claimant is in a UC full service area. This should mean there is no overpayment. However, if the person has already made a claim for UC, then we understand that the tax credits claim will be terminated the day before the UC claim starts. This concession is not within the legislation and it does not seem to be published anywhere which means it could be difficult to enforce.

We explain more about good cause in the renewals section.  

If a claimant cannot provide their actual income for the tax year just ended by July 31st (or whatever deadline applies in their case), they can provide an estimate to HMRC.

The claimant must then provide the actual income to HMRC, either by giving the figure or confirming the earlier estimate by 31 January.

Failure to do so will result in HMRC finalising the claim for the year just ended with the estimated income given which may be incorrect.

January 31 is also the deadline for self-assessment returns.

Last reviewed/updated 16 April 2018