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Tax credits: changes you need to report and when

It's very important to tell the Tax Credit Office about any changes in your circumstances that could affect your tax credits payments. If you don’t, you may be paid too much tax credits (an overpayment) or not get everything you’re entitled to.

Why it's so important to report a change straight away

Not telling the Tax Credit Office about a change in circumstances straight away is one of the main reasons that overpayments happen.

If you don't tell the Tax Credit Office straight away about a change they won't know about it until they ask you to confirm your actual circumstances. This could be for example when they send you a renewal pack between April and July of the following year. This means:

  • you could have been overpaid from the date of the change - which you may have to pay back
  • you could have to pay a penalty of up to £300 if you’ve been overpaid
  • you could lose out if the change meant you were entitled to more money - increases can usually only be backdated by up to three months from the time you report the change

Getting married, civil partnerships, living with someone - or no longer with a partner

If you get tax credits as a single person

Within one month, tell the Tax Credit Office if:

  • you've got married or entered into a civil partnership, even if you don't live together
  • you start to live with someone as if you were married or in a civil partnership, for example you live together at the same address all, or most, of the time

If you get tax credits as part of a couple

Within one month, tell the Tax Credit Office if any of the following apply:

  • you are married or in a civil partnership and have separated under a court order - or your separation is likely to be permanent
  • you stop living with someone as though you are married or in a civil partnership
  • you are now living with a different partner
  • you've got married or entered into a civil partnership with a person you made your joint claim with
  • your partner has died

Leaving the UK - or losing the 'right to reside' in the UK

Within one month tell the Tax Credit Office if you - or your partner:

  • leave the UK for good
  • leave the UK for any period and you expect to be away for more than 52 weeks at the point you - or your partner - leave
  • go abroad for a short stay of more than eight weeks – or for more than 12 weeks if you or a family member is being treated for an illness, or if someone in your family (or your partner’s family) has died
  • lose the right to reside in the UK

Work and income

Within one month, tell the Tax Credit Office if:

  • you stop working – even if you’re self-employed
  • you have been working at least 16 hours a week and your hours drop to less than 16
  • you have been working at least 30 hours a week, you’re single and your hours drop to less than 30
  • you have been working at least 30 hours a week, you’re in a couple with children and your total hours drop to less than 30
  • change your job - and there is a gap of seven days or more between finishing that job and starting the next one
  • you are on strike - and it's gone on for more than ten working days in a row

Within three months, tell the Tax Credit Office if you:

  • change your job - and there is a gap of six days or less between finishing that job and starting the next one
  • expect your income for the current tax year to be more or less than last year’s income – a tax year runs from 6 April to 5 April the following year

Address and bank details

Tell the Tax Credit Office as quickly as possible if you:

  • move home 
  • change your phone number
  • get a different bank or building society account

Family changes

Changes involving all children – from new baby up to the age of 20

Within one month, tell the Tax Credit Office if your child:

  • leaves home to live with someone else
  • is taken into care
  • is placed with a family for fostering or adoption
  • has received a custodial sentence of four months or more
  • dies

Within three months, tell the Tax Credit Office if:

  • you have a baby
  • a child or young person joins your family, perhaps because you foster or adopt

Once your child reaches 16

 Within one month, tell the Tax Credit Office if your child:

  • leaves full-time non-advanced education or approved training after the 1 September following their sixteenth birthday
  • starts full-time non-advanced education that's provided as part of a job or through any office they hold (such as a scout leader or councillor)
  • starts approved training that’s being provided as part of any contract of employment
  • gets Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker's Allowance or tax credits in their own right
  • starts doing paid work for 24 hours or more a week and they’re not in full-time non-advanced education or approved training
  • stops being registered with a careers service like Connexions - where you are getting the extra period of tax credits for them (of up to 20 weeks)

To find out what is meant by 'full-time non-advanced education' follow the link immediately below.

Within three months, tell the Tax Credit Office if your child:

  • stays on - or goes back to - school or full-time non-advanced education
  • starts an approved training course
  • stops full-time non-advanced education or approved training, is aged 16 or 17 and registers with a careers service, like Connexions

To find out what is meant by 'full-time non-advanced education' follow the link immediately below.

You or a member of your family is taken into custody

Within one month, tell the Tax Credit Office if the person who has gone into custody:

  • was working and has left their job
  • was a lone parent and is no longer responsible for any children - for example because they have gone to live with someone else or have been taken into care

If none of these apply, you still need to tell the Tax Credit Office within three months if you or your partner:

  • receive a custodial sentence
  • have been remanded in custody awaiting trial or sentence

Childcare

Your childcare costs change – or you start paying for childcare

Within one month, tell the Tax Credit Office if:

  • you stop paying for childcare
  • your average childcare costs go down by £10 a week or more – and if you pay the same amount every week the change will last for at least four weeks in a row
  • you get help with your childcare from a local authority or any other government department, such as the early years education grant for three and four year olds
  • you start getting help with your childcare costs through your employer (or from anyone else), such as vouchers or other salary sacrifice scheme

Within three months, tell the Tax Credit Office if:

  • you start paying a registered or approved childcare provider to look after your child
  • you are already getting help with your childcare costs through tax credits and your costs go up by £10 a week or more on average – and if you pay the same amount every week the change will last for at least four weeks in a row

Changes involving your childcare provider

Within one month, tell the Tax Credit Office if:

  • your childcare provider has lost their registration or approval
  • your childcare provider decides not to renew their registration or approval
  • their registration or approval has run out (even if they have applied to renew their registration)
  • you change your childcare provider, even if your average weekly childcare cost does not change by £10 or more
  • you start using a child care provider who is not registered or approved for tax credits purposes
  • you start using a relative to look after your child at home

How to report the change

You can report changes in one of the following ways:

  • calling the Tax Credit Helpline
  • writing to the Tax Credit Office

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