Child Tax Credit

If you have children and you’re on a low income, you could be eligible for Child Tax Credits to help you with the costs of raising a child.

What is Child Tax Credit?

Did you know?

You don’t need to be working to claim Child Tax Credit.

Child Tax Credit is a benefit to help with the cost of raising a child.

You may be able to get it if you’re over 16 and responsible for a child who is either:

You can’t claim Child Tax Credit if you’re claiming Universal Credit.

How much is Child Tax Credit?

You could get a basic amount of up to £545 a year (known as the ‘family element’).

You’ll get extra amounts (‘elements’) on top of this, depending on your circumstances.

The rates for the 2016 to 2017 tax year are:

Elements Yearly amount
For each child (the ‘child element’) Up to £2,780
For each disabled child (the disabled child element’) Up to £3,140 (in addition to the child element)
For each severely disabled child (the ‘severely disabled child element’) Up to £1,275 (in addition to the child and disabled child elements)

How much you’ll get

The amount you get depends on things like:

  • your income
  • how many children you have living with you
  • whether your child has a disability

If your annual household income is £16,105 or below, you’ll get the maximum amount for each Child Tax Credit element you qualify for.

This is called the ‘income threshold’. Anything you earn above that will reduce the amount you can get.

Child Tax Credit income limits

When you apply for Child Tax Credit, the Tax Credit Office will take into account your circumstances (and those of your partner) when deciding how much you’re entitled to.

The tables below give you a rough idea of the upper annual household income limits for getting Child Tax Credit. If your income is around or below these amounts you might be able to get it.

If you have childcare costs

Number of children Annual household income limit for 2016-17
1 £40,000
2 £55,000
3 £65,000

If you don’t have childcare costs

Number of children Annual household income limit for 2016-17
1 £25,000
2 £35,000
3 £40,000
Use GOV.UK’s Tax credits calculator to get an estimate of how much you could get.

How to claim Child Tax Credit

Call the Tax Credits Helpline on 0345 300 3900 to get a claim form.

If you’re already claiming tax credits, call the Tax Credit Helpline to update your claim.

Keeping your tax credits up to date

You need to renew your tax credits claim every year if you want to keep getting them.

The Tax Credit Office will write to you telling you what you need to do to renew your tax credits.

If your circumstances change at any time during the year (for example, if your income changes, your child leaves home or you move house) you should call the Tax Credit Office on 0345 300 3900 to let them know.

Changes in your circumstances can affect the amount of money you should be getting. For example, if your income drops, you may get more support. Or if your income increases, you could have to pay back any money you’ve been overpaid at a later date if you don’t let the Tax Credits Office know.

Tax Credits and income changes

From April 2016, the amount by which your income can change before you have to tell the Tax Credit Office falls from £5,000 to £2,500. This is called the income disregard.

If your income goes up by £2,500 or more and you delay telling the Tax Credit Office or wait until the next time your claim is due to be re-assessed, you may find that you have been overpaid tax credits.

You will be asked to pay this extra money back, either by reducing your future tax credits or by direct payments if your tax credits have stopped.

To avoid this bill, it’s even more important to tell the Tax Credit Office within 30 days of when you get the extra money. It’ll be easier for your tax credits to be adjusted, and decrease the chance you’ll be chased for overpayments at a later date.

It also works the other way. If your income falls by £2,500 or more, you might be entitled to more tax credits.

If you are asked to repay tax credits and will struggle to pay, speak to the Tax Credit Office as soon as you can, and certainly within 30 days.

Find out more about what to do if you’re overpaid tax credits on the GOV.UK websiteopens in new window

Other tax credits you might qualify for

If you work and you’re on a low income, you might be eligible for Working Tax Credit to top up your earnings.

And if you have children and you work, you might be eligible for the ‘childcare element’ of Working Tax Credit to help with the cost of childcare.

When you apply for Child Tax Credit you’ll also be told whether you qualify for Working Tax Credit. There’s no need to claim them separately.

Remember, if you’re eligible for Working Tax credit, your income threshold for the maximum tax credit amount will be lower.

Find out more about Working Tax Credit

Changes to Child Tax Credits

From April 2017, if you’re making a new Child Tax Credit claim, there are plans to limit support to the first two children (unless you have a multiple birth).

You’ll also no longer be able to claim the family element.

You’ll still be able to claim the disabled child premium for any of your children who are eligible to get it.

If you’re already claiming Child Tax Credits and you have more than two children, you won’t be affected by the changes.

Planning ahead

These changes could have an impact on your income if you’re affected, so it’s best to be prepared.

Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit

Child Tax Credit is one of the six benefits that is being phased out and replaced by Universal Credit.

If you’re already claiming Child Tax Credit you probably won’t be affected right now.

You can continue to make new claims for Child Tax Credit. But you can’t claim tax credits and Universal Credit at the same time.

At the moment, you would only claim Universal Credit instead of tax credits if:

  • you start living with a partner who already receives Universal Credit
  • you live in one of the areas where Universal Credit is being introduced and you lose your job

If you’re affected by Universal Credit, the Tax Credit Office will tell you what you need to do to close your tax credits claim.

Find out more about Universal Credit

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