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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Voluntary organisations - how to act for your Child Benefit client

Some people - often known as clients - might ask you to deal with their Child Benefit on their behalf. You usually need to have your client's authority to act on their behalf but not if you want to give them general advice.

When you need to be authorised to act

You need to be authorised to act on your client's behalf if you want to:

  • ask the Child Benefit Office for specific information about your client's Child Benefit
  • give specific information to the Child Benefit Office about your client's Child Benefit

When you don't need to be authorised

If you only want general Child Benefit advice, you don't need to be authorised. A lot of general Child Benefit advice is available online by following the link below.

What you can do on your client’s behalf

You will be able to discuss your client’s Child Benefit claim with the Child Benefit Office and also provide information about them.

What you can't do

Unless you have been authorised to act as an 'appointee', you will not be able to get:

  • Child Benefit payments on your client’s behalf
  • any award notices or other decision notices

How to get authorisation

Your client should:

  • complete form TC689 Authority for an intermediary to act on your behalf
  • give it to you to fill in your details
  • send it to the Tax Credit Office at the address shown on the form - a photocopied form is acceptable, but any signatures must be original

The Tax Credit Office takes the relevant details and then sends the form to the Child Benefit Office. Alternatively, your client can write a letter giving exactly the same information as on form TC689.

If you deal with a lot of Child Benefit clients

If you are dealing with a lot of Child Benefit queries you may want to register as an 'intermediary organisation'. To do this you will have to register with the Tax Credit Office’s Intermediaries, Agents and Appointees Team. This allows you to contact the Child Benefit Office urgently for advice, and will help them deal very quickly with any queries you may have. To register you need to write to:

HMRC Tax Credits
Intermediaries, Agents and Appointees Team

Getting authorisation urgently

If you need authorisation urgently, you can send your client's completed form TC689 by fax to the Intermediaries, Agents and Appointees Team. Your organisation must have registered with the team to do this. If they have, they'll have been given contact details and fax number for the team, and an Office Identification Number (OIN). You must quote your OIN when you send a form TC689 by fax.

The team can only accept TC689s by fax - not letters or any other communication.

What happens before you’re authorised?

You will not be able to act until the Tax Credit Office has received both of the following:

  • your client’s authorisation form
  • their Child Benefit claim

Until then, your client will need to deal directly with the Child Benefit Office. If you call the Child Benefit Helpline in the meantime, your client will need to be with you. At the start of the call they will need to:

  • answer a number of security questions, to make sure the helpline is dealing with the right customer
  • confirm that they want you to act on their behalf - the authorisation applies for that phone call only

If your client is not with you, you'll only be able to get general advice.

If your client doesn’t have English as a first language the Child Benefit Helpline can arrange advice through an interpreter. Your client can use their own interpreter, but both you and the interpreter must be present, along with your client, when you call.

What happens after you’re authorised?

When you call the Helpline

If you need to call the Child Benefit Helpline you'll need to be able to answer security questions about your client and about yourself. This is to make sure the Child Benefit Helpline is dealing with the right customer and the right intermediary and not breaking confidentiality rules. It helps if you can also provide your client's Child Benefit number, or National Insurance number, if they have one.

Length of authorisation

You can deal with your client's Child Benefit affairs on their behalf until your authorisation runs out. Authorisation usually lasts for 12 months from the date your client signed the TC689. But it can be earlier or later if they have entered a different end date on the form.

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