When the time comes to renew your tax credits, you need to make sure HMRC have their facts straight or you could get caught out. Here is what you need to do and why.
If you submitted a claim for tax credits during the last tax year (between 6th April 2017 and 5th April 2018) you need to renew, or review your tax credit entitlement.
This applies irrespective of whether you received tax credits for the whole year, for part of the year, or if you had your claim for tax credits refused.
If you made a claim for tax credits last tax year then you will be sent a tax credit renewal pack; if you made multiple claims you will be sent one tax credit renewal pack for each.
You we receive either:
A review notice: This form will say "check now" with a black line underneath your address on the first page.
A declaration form: This form will say "reply now" with a red line underneath your address on the first page.
If you receive a declaration form, you need to renew your tax credit entitlement as soon as possible.
If you receive a review notice, you need to check the details on the form. If they are correct then you do not need to do anything else.
If your circumstances have changed, or if there are any errors on the form, you need to notify HMRC as this will affect your entitlement.
You need to check your annual review notice even if you do not intend to claim tax credits this tax year.
Tax credits are payments from the government designed to help with the cost of living.
The amount you receive will depend on how much you earn, how many hours you work, who you live with, how much you spend on childcare and whether you receive any benefits.
HMRC starts to send out tax credit renewal packs in April and the last ones are sent out at the end of June.
The annual declaration forms are usually sent out first followed by the annual review notices.
If you have not received a tax credit renewal pack by the 27th June and think you should have, contact the Tax Credit Helpline to request that the forms be sent to you.
Once you receive your tax credit renewal pack you have until 31st July to renew your entitlement, or report any changes.
You can do this by completing your Annual declaration form and sending it back to the tax credit office, by calling the Tax Credit Helpline (0345 300 3900) or by renewing online.
Some renewal packs will specify a different deadline so you must check to make sure you get yours in on time.
If you need any help completing your tax credit renewal you can take your pack to your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau, and they will be able to assist.
Once you have submitted your tax credit renewal, or informed the Tax Credit Office of any changes to your circumstances you should receive a reply within 8 weeks.
You will get confirmation of:
Any overpayments or underpayments during the past tax year
Your payments for the coming year, providing your circumstances remain the same
Check the details carefully and contact the Tax Credit Office if you notice any errors.
If you have been sent an annual declaration form and do not renew your tax credits by 31st July your payments will stop.
If this happens you only have 30 days to contact the Tax Credit Office with the information they have asked for or you will need to submit a new tax credit claim and start the process again.
You may also be asked to repay anything you have received since 6th April this year, and any overpayments you have received in the last tax year.
If your circumstances have changed over the past year you must inform HMRC so your tax credit payments can be amended.
Once you notify them of a change, HMRC will adjust your payments accordingly.
If you do not inform HMRC of any changes that affect your entitlement you will be asked to return any overpayments you have received.
These changes include if your living circumstances, your job or your working hours change; see the Gov.uk website for a full list.
You will be asked to repay the money. This can happen if you fail to renew on time, make a mistake on your form or fail to inform HMRC of a change in your circumstances.
You can do this by:
Making a direct payment
Reducing your ongoing payments until you have cleared what you owe
If you have stopped receiving tax credits, you will have to make a payment. Your options are explained on the Gov.uk website.
You can appeal within 30 days if you think their calculations are wrong. There is more information about how to appeal on the Gov.uk website.
If you need help you can contact HMRC to discuss your tax credits.
If you would like personalised one to one advice on your tax credits you can search for a chartered tax adviser that specialises in them on the Chartered Institute for Taxation website.