During the pandemic, those who received Working Tax Credits did not need to tell HMRC about any temporary short-term reductions in their working hours as a result of coronavirus i.e. if they were furloughed or simply had less hours (which would have previously rendered them ineligible.) Any reduction was treated as if they were working full time hours, which was a real nice move from the tax man.
Those who receive Tax-Free Childcare were not required to prove their income under the same relaxation of the eligibility criteria during the height of the pandemic. However, now that all coronavirus related benefits have ended and the country is “back open for business”, anyone who gets tax credits needs to inform HMRC if their working hours have not returned to pre-COVID levels. Likewise, those who get Tax-Free Childcare need to now prove their income.
You now must work a certain number of hours each week to qualify for Working Tax Credits. Those aged between 25 and 59 need to work 30 hours or more to qualify, while those over 60 need to work 16 hours a week in order to qualify. If you are a person with a disability or a single person with one or more children, you must also work 16 hours or more each week to qualify. For couples with one or more children, you must work at least 24 hours a week with one of you working at least 16 hours in order to qualify.
From the 25th of November 2021 if your hours have not returned to normal as shown in your Working Tax Credit claim and you haven’t notified HMRC then you may have to pay back any overpayments and face a penalty of £300 which, if you ask me, is like kicking a dog when it’s down - but anyway!
The good news is that if you’re no longer eligible for Working Tax Credits, you will remain entitled to Child Tax credits if you already receive it and have not yet made a claim for Universal Credit.
For Tax-Free Childcare, you need to earn an average of £142 per week to claim up to £2000 per year per child towards childcare costs. As previously mentioned, this was relaxed during the pandemic for those on furlough or claiming SEISS and for those whose earnings fell below the threshold. But now it is “back to business” again and you now must prove that you are eligible (as above) every three months when you wish to apply.
Furthermore, Child Benefit and Tax Credit customers who use Post Office card accounts need to be aware that from the 30th November 2021 these accounts will be closing and you will no longer be able to receive your payments into them. If you are affected by this, you must notify HMRC of your new account details, be it bank, credit union or building society. This should be done as soon as possible so as not to miss any payments.
For more information on tax credits you can use the following options:
Written by Aoibheann Byrne