Tax Credits: Renewals

Each tax credit claim lasts for a maximum of one tax year and a new claim must be made for each new tax year. The renewals process is used to finalise the claim for the year just ended and act as a new claim for the new tax year. Although HMRC state that no brand new claims for tax credits are possible (due to the introduction of universal credit, except in certain cases where people are granted refugee status, renewing an existing claim does not count as a brand new claim and so there is currently no restriction on existing claimants renewing their tax credit claims. However, under current plans HMRC say there will be no live tax credit awards beyond 5 April 202

HMRC will normally send a set of papers (normally between April and June each year), and so long as the information requested is given within the time limits requested, the legislation treats the claim as having been made for the new tax year in most cases.

The process set out here will apply to claims in certain cases where people are invited to claim universal credit or state pension credit. In those cases, a different process called in-year finalisation will be used to finalise their claims. Some people may get a standard renewals pack (to finalise the tax year just ended and act as their claim for the new tax year) as well as an in-year finalisation pack to finalise the current year. See our section on Universal Credit - Finalising Tax Credit Claims for more information.

Outline of the process

For the majority of claimants the process aims to do two things: to reconcile entitlement for the year just gone (the current year) with what has been paid; and to renew the tax credit claim for the coming year.

Although the process is often referred to as the ‘renewals process’, not everyone will want or need to renew their claim. Some people, for example where a joint claim ended in the tax year just ended, will need to finalise the old claim but will not be making a new claim. In this case they are not renewing merely finalising the old claim.

HMRC have information about the process on GOV.UK aimed at claimants.

The renewals process

The claim for the year just ended (current year) was based initially on the claimant’s circumstances for that year, and income for the year before (the previous year). One of the functions of the renewal process is to establish the claimant's income for the current year, and to review any changes of personal circumstances during it, so that their final entitlement for that year can be established.

Having established the claimant's income for the current year, it is used, together with their latest set of personal circumstances, to set the initial award for the coming year.

So we have a three-year rolling programme. The initial claim for 2023/24 was based on circumstances current in 2023/24 and income for 2022/23. The renewal process for 2023/24 compares the actual income of 2023/24 with that for 2022/23 to fix the final entitlement for 2023/24, and uses the income figure for 2023/24 to fix the initial award for 2024/25.

The comparison works like this for finalising 2022/23 claims (concentrating only on income and leaving aside changes in entitlement which are due to changes in circumstances):

So an initial tax credits award is made in the year of payment, then revised at the end of the year to produce in many cases an underpayment or overpayment.

The renewal packs

Claimants will either receive -

  1. A TC603R auto-renewal form; or
  2. A TC603RR plus TC603D (reply required)

- plus guidance notes (TC603R or TC603RD).

Auto-renewals - Current

For the renewals exercise during April-July 2024, HMRC expect to send mostly auto-renewal notices but will still send reply-required notices to some people. For auto-renewals, claimants are asked to check the information replayed to them in their renewal paperwork and they only need to contact HMRC if they need to tell HMRC if anything is incorrect or has changed. The award for 2023/24 will be automatically finalised after 31 July iif the claimant does not contact HMRC. 

Even though some auto-renewal forms will show income figures provided by an employer or occupational pension provider, it is important that claimants still check to see whether they have other income or can make any deductions from the figure provided by their employer as income for tax credits purposes is not the same as income for tax purposes. See our RTI and tax credits section for more detailed information on what should be checked.

 Nil-award claims

In December 2010, in an effort to reduce costs, HMRC introduced legislation which enables them not to automatically renew people on nil awards (or who will be on nil awards from the following 6 April) unless the claimant tells HMRC that they wish to renew their claim.

Under the process, HMRC send a letter (TC1015) to anyone who has had a nil award for certain period of time (our understanding is this is currently 13 months – but the legislation does not specify a minimum or maximum).

These letters are a ‘relevant notification’ that HMRC will no longer automatically renew their claim unless, by the date specified in the letter, the claimant makes a ‘relevant request’. If the claimant does not make a relevant request (ie write to or phone HMRC to say they wished to renew their claims), their claim lapses on 5 April.

There are two groups of people who could lose out by not renewing under this exercise:

Reply required

If the claimant is not an auto-renewal case, they must reply to the TC603RR (annual review) and complete and return the TC603D declaration form with details of their income for the 'current year' (the tax year just ended). This can be done by any of the following methods (see our contacting HMRC section for more details):

Since April 2014, HMRC have had access to real time information income data from employers and occupational pension providers. They will replay this information on the TC603RR form. It is important that claimants still check to see whether they have other income or can make any deductions from the figure provided by their employer as income for tax credits purposes is not the same as income for tax purposes. See our RTI and tax credits section for more detailed information on what should be checked.

If they have made more than one claim during the current year, eg because they started the year as a single claimant then became a joint claimant with a new partner, they must complete a set of forms for each claim, even if they each show the same information.

Prior to 6 April 2010, if a couple separated during the renewals period, and one member of the couple did not complete their forms an overpayment would occur of payments between 6 April and the date they separated. This was the case even if one partner completed their renewal forms.

But legislation, effective from 6 April 2010, allows one member of a couple to finalise the previous year’s claim and renew the claim for the period following 6 April to the date before the separation. If only one member responds, the award will be based on the information provided which may not be accurate. HMRC have advised that, where possible, it is still recommended that both members send back their forms.

It is vital to complete and return renewal papers when required to do so. It is important that the claimant checks the personal circumstances listed and inform HMRC if any of them have changed.

Online renewals

Claimants have the option of renewing online. To do this claimants must go via the GOV.UK website, and either use the tax credit section in their personal tax account or go directly to: Alternatively, claimants can use the HMRC app (See below).  

Claimants will need to have a Government Gateway ID to use the service. Anyone who does not have a gateway ID can get one as part of the process. The number will appear immediately and claimants should keep a note of this number somewhere safe. To use the system they will also need:

Claimants will need to answer some additional security questions and will be given some options to help confirm their identity. For example they may be asked about information on their  P60, tax credit payments, bank accounts and so on.

During the on-line renewal process, there is a save and return function so that claimants no longer have to complete their on-line renewal in one go. The save and return function lasts for 28 days but the on-line renewal service will ‘time-out’ after 30 minutes of inactivity  and no information will be saved automatically unless the claimant saves or fully completes their renewal. Claimants should see a summary screen at the end of the process and will receive an email from HMRC within 24 hours of submitting their renewal to confirm that their information and declaration has been received. Claimants cannot reply to this confirmation email and the email address cannot accept incoming emails.

Sometimes, HMRC will contact claimants who have been sent reply-required renewal packs but have not yet completed their renewal to remind them to complete their renewal. These reminders will be in the form of SMS text messages but will not include any personal information about the tax credit claim.


Once claimants have completed their renewal declaration, they can check progress of their renewal using the ‘Manage your tax credits' HMRC App.

Claimants can renew using the HMRC App, which is free to download. See our contacting HMRC page for more information.

Provisional payments

So long as renewal papers are returned by the deadlines shown below, claims are treated as made for the new tax year and are backdated to 6 April.

While the renewal process is going on, HMRC will continue pay on the basis of the last known income and circumstances for the tax year just ended. These run-on payments are known technically as provisional payments.

Previously, provisional payments for the new award period, (ie 2024/25) reflected the income and circumstances last reported in the previous tax year (2023/24). Others may see their payments change in April as HMRC use the RTI data they hold from your employer or pension provider. It is important to complete the renewal forms quickly so as to re-establish the award for 2023/24 on the basis of the latest information and to get the rates and thresholds for that year.When the renewal process is complete, provisional payments are replaced by payments under an initial award for the new tax year. See the information in the claims starting section.

The deadline for return of renewal papers for 2023/24 is the date specified on the renewal papers (in most cases this will be 31 July 2024). This is referred to by HMRC as the ‘first specified date’.

If the claimant cannot supply firm details of their 2023/24 income by the deadline stated on the renewal papers (in most cases 31 July 2024), for example if they are self-employed and are still waiting for their accounts to be finalised, an estimate is acceptable.

The important thing is to return an estimate by that date. If an estimate is given, it must be confirmed, or actual figures supplied, by 31 January 2025 (which is also the online filing deadline for self-assessment).

Missing the deadline

If the claimant does not renew (either by sending the papers to HMRC or renewing via the telephone or online) by 31 July 2024 (or the date on their renewal papers if different) then the award may be terminated.

Failure to renew means that no new claim is made for 2024/25, consequently any provisional payments received from April 2024 will become overpaid and HMRC will seek to recover them via direct recovery. In addition, any other overpayments that were being recovered from their ongoing award will switch to direct recovery when their award is terminated for non-renewal.

If HMRC terminate the award for failing to renew (and consequently stop all payments) regulations allow the claim to be restored providing the claimant renews within 30 days from the date on the notice telling them that their payments are to be stopped (technically called the Statement of Account). Note that for the renewals cycle relating to 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14, HMRC extended the 30 days to 60 days due to problems that claimants had using the tax credits helpline to renew. HMRC have not allowed this extension in more recent years and we are not aware that they plan to allow it for 2023/24.

Outside of this 30 day period, the claim can only be restored if the claimant can show that there was 'good cause' for failing to renew, so long as the renewal papers are returned by the later deadline of 31 January 2025.

In both cases, restoration means that HMRC treat the claim as being made from 6 April 2024.

Missing the deadline can also mean the award for the previous year is finalised only using information HMRC already hold and not include any additional or updated information from the claimant. Where this happens and claimants disagree with the decision about their tax credits, they will normally need to rely on their appeal rights on the finalised decision and request a mandatory reconsideration to start the appeals process. Claimants need to be aware of the timeframes for appeals.

This also applies where claimants do not have their actual income figure available by 31 July and instead need HMRC to use an estimate of their income for the renewal (and finalisation) process. Where awards are finalised using estimated income, HMRC then make another final decision following the 31 January (2SD) deadline. If claimants do not provide their actual income figure by the 2SD deadline, HMRC will make that final decision using the estimated figure they already hold. Again, claimants who disagree with this decision must rely on their appeal rights to challenge the decision.

Now that UC is available across the UK, HMRC state that it is no longer possible for anyone to make a brand new claim for tax credits and will be expected to claim UC (or pension credit) instead for ongoing support. See our making a claim section for more information about this.

The legislation (Regulation 6 of SI.No.65/2018) covers the situation where a late tax credit renewal claim is accepted where there was good cause for missing both the 31 July deadline and the 30-day grace period meaning that if a person has good cause for missing the deadline and contacts HMRC to renew by 31 January following the renewal deadline, HMRC will reinstate the tax credit claim from the previous 6 April. This will be for the full tax year if the person has not claimed UC, or up until the day before the UC award starts if they have already claimed. If the tax credit claimant cannot show they had good cause for their late renewal, they will not be able to make a brand new claim for tax credits. See our Tax Credits - Who Can Claim section for more information.

You can read more about UC in the UC section.

If the claim cannot be restored (because there was no good cause or if good cause was present the renewal was not done before the 31st January), all provisional payments paid from 6 April 2024 will be treated as overpaid.

As mentioned above, it is vital to return renewal papers when required to do so. Claimants should particularly beware of using non-renewal as a tool to pull out of the tax credits system unless they have been invited to do so by letter from HMRC. The consequence of doing so is that their entitlement will cease as from the start of the tax year 2024/25, and therefore if they have received any tax credit payments in that year to the date of termination will become overpaid. In addition they will no longer be able to repay any overpayment by reduction of an ongoing award, as there will be no ongoing award to reduce. Instead direct recovery will be commenced. HMRC state that it is no longer possible for anyone to make a brand new claim for tax credits and ost people will be expected to claim UC (or pension credit) instead for ongoing support.The only exception to this is for certain people who are granted refugee status. 

To summarise:

Withdrawing from the system

As noted above, dissatisfaction with the system has led some claimants to refrain from completing their renewal papers. This has also happened where people have had a change in circumstances and thought they were no longer entitled to tax credits. The consequence of not returning the forms is set out above, and generally means that all payments between April and the date HMRC terminate the claim (for failure to complete the renewals process) become overpaid. HMRC state that it is no longer possible for anyone to make a brand new claim for tax credits and most people will be expected to claim UC (or pension credit) instead for ongoing support. The only exception to this is for certain people who are granted refugee status See our tax credits and UC section for more information.

In April 2010, HMRC introduced rules to allow claimants to withdraw from the system by only finalising their previous year claim and not renewing their claim for the current tax year. In effect this means that you must let HMRC know before 6 April that you wish to withdraw your claim for the next year, otherwise you may be overpaid. After the renewals process has been completed, you will not be able to withdraw until the next tax year. During the renewals process, withdrawal may mean you have to pay back anything received from 6 April.

NB - please not however that the above link has been archived by HMRC and has not been updated since May 2014.


In addition to the clawback of all provisional payments made to date, there may be financial penalties for not responding to a renewal notice, or for giving the wrong information in response to it. More information about penalties can be found in our 'penalties and interest' section.

Renewals and Universal Credit

Universal Credit is gradually replacing working tax credit and child tax credit. HMRC state that it is no longer possible for anyone to make a brand new claim for tax credits and most people will be expected to claim UC (or pension credit) instead for ongoing support. The only exception to this is for certain people who are granted refugee status. The majority of existing tax credit claimants will be invited to move over (manage-migrated) from tax credits to UC or pension credit (in some cases) and that exercise is expected to be completed by the end of the 2024/25 tax year. The finalisation process for claimants who are invited to move to UC or pension credit is different to the process usually used to finalise tax credit claims. 

HMRC have included an extra letter in renewal packs for 2024 advising claimants that the tax credits system is ending from 5 April 2025 and that they will be contacted before then about claiming either universal credit or pension credit instead. For those who are unable to claim either universal credit or pension credit, financial support through tax credits will end on 5 April 2025. 

In cases where a tax credit claimant has both in-year finalisation and standard renewal paperwork and declarations to complete, they can both be done at the same time, although claimants cannot complete their in-year finalisation paperwork online. See the information in the Universal Credit - Finalising Tax Credits section.

Last reviewed/updated 18 June 2024