If you’re responsible for a child, you could be entitled to support in the form of Child Tax Credit. But how much is Child Tax Credit, and who can make a claim? Let’s take a look.
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What is Child Tax Credit?
Child Tax Credit is a type of benefit. It helps people on low incomes cover the costs of raising a child.
- It’s usually paid until the September following your child’s 16th birthday. So, if your child turns 16 on 1 August 2021, you’ll get the final payment on 1 September 2021.
- You don’t need to be the child’s parent to claim Child Tax Credit, but you must be their main carer.
You don’t need to be employed to make a claim for Child Tax Credit, but the amount you earn can affect what you can claim.
Who can claim Child Tax Credit?
For most people, Universal Credit has replaced Child Tax Credit. So, you can only claim now in a few specific circumstances.
You must be aged 16 or over and already on tax credits. You must also be responsible for:
- At least one child under 16, or
- Someone aged between 16 and 20 who is studying for a non-advanced qualification, like GCSEs or A-Levels.
If you’re not eligible to apply, you could check out Universal Credit instead.
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How much is Child Tax Credit?
This is where it can get a little complicated.
As for how the DWP works out your Child Tax Credit allowance, it essentially comes down to when your child was born: before or after 6 April 2017.
Before 6 April 2017
- If any of your children were born before 6 April 2017, you’ll get a basic rate of £545. This is called the ‘family element’.
- You will also get up to £2,845 per child born before 6 April 2017. This part is called the ‘child element’.
After 6 April 2017
This is where Child Tax Credit gets trickier.
If you have children born after 6 April 2017, you can only usually claim up to £2,845 for up to two children. So, even if you’ve got three or more children born after this date, you can only claim for two. If, however, you also have children born before this date, you can still claim for all of these older children.
The best way to show how this works is by example, because yes, it’s a little murky!
- You have three children born before 6 April 2017 and two children born afterwards. It’s possible for you to claim for all five children.
- You have one child born before 6 April 2017 and three born afterwards. You can claim for three children in total – the one born before 6 April 2017 and two of the three born after.
Don’t worry if this seems confusing. Just tell the DWP how many children you have and how old they are, and they’ll work it out for you.
You’re entitled to a top-up if your child is disabled.
- Registered disability: You can get up to £3,435 per disabled child on top of the original £2,845. This is the ‘disability’ element.
- Severe disability: The disability element goes up from £3,435 to £4,825.
How do I claim Child Tax Credit?
Luckily, claiming is simple. All you need to do is update your existing tax credit claim. There are two ways to do this:
- By telephone: Give HMRC a call on 0345 300 3900 and follow the menu options. Lines are open from Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm.
- Online: Log in to your account and manage your tax credits through the online portal.
For most people, it’s probably quicker to manage your account online than phoning HMRC, but it’s all about personal preference.
In general, it can take around five weeks to process your claim.
For many people, Child Tax Credit can really help cover the costs of raising a family, especially if they’re unemployed or on a low salary. However, it’s only available to people already on tax credits, so many people will need to claim Universal Credit instead.
How much Child Tax Credit will you get? The figures above can offer a guide, but you’ll find out for sure when you file your claim. Contact the DWP or Citizens Advice for more information on this.
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