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Working Parent Benefits: What help can I get?

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Benefits can be very confusing to understand, it is a really good thing that very soon Universal Credit will be taking the over and simplifying the system. For now though at least, many really don’t understand the working parent benefits they could be entitled to.

Benefit breakdown

We’ve tried to simplify the available benefits as much as possible, so you can scroll through and see if you could be eligible any of the following

What are Tax Credits?

Tax credits are payments from the government which aren’t taxable – hurrah! You may be eligible for child tax credits if you are responsible for at least one child or young person or you may be eligible for working tax credits if you are on a low income. People can often be eligible for both BUT – you won’t be notified if you can claim either of these payments, it’s up to you to find out. Several factors are considered when calculating how much you can claim, including your income and living arrangements i.e. single or living with a partner.

Am I eligible for Child Tax Credits?

Child tax credits can be claimed when you have a new baby or are responsible for any children who live with you until the 31st August after their 16th birthday. If you have a 16-19 year old that is still in education, you may still be able to claim tax credits for them – you should check which kind of education or training qualifies for this.

When a new baby arrives, make sure you notify HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as soon as possible. Payments can be backdated but only for the previous month e.g. if your baby is 6 months old by the time you tell HMRC, they’ll only back date one month from then, not the entire 6 months since your baby was born. This rule applies whether you are already claiming for children in your household or whether you are claiming for the first time. If you have a multiple birth e.g. twins, you can claim child tax credits for each baby.

If your child lives with more than one person e.g. you share custody with your ex-partner, then only one household will be able to claim child tax credits. It’s up to you who claims the child tax credit but if you cannot decide, both of you can claim and the tax office will decide for you based on who has main responsibility for the child.

Working Family Benefits

Childcare and Child Tax Credits

If you work, you could get extra tax credits to help with your childcare costs. The cost of childcare can be enormous so this is a really important option to review. Your childcare provider will need to be registered or approved to help you qualify but this can include nurseries, child minders, out of school hours clubs, nannies and foster carers. As with all tax credits, the usual considerations apply – whether you’re a single parent or part of a couple, how many hours you/your partner work and how much you earn as a household.

Some employers offer childcare vouchers but you cannot have these and also claim tax credits for childcare. It’s your choice which you’d like to claim though so make sure you compare them to see how you’ll be better off.

Am I eligible for Working Tax Credits?

This is calculated based on how many hours you work and get paid for. The same guidelines apply if you are self-employed. (Unpaid work doesn’t count when claiming working tax credits.)

HMRC will also take into account whether you have children, whether you are single or live as a couple and how much your household income is.

How to get started

You need to complete a claims form but this cannot be done online. You’ll need to call the Tax Credit Helpline on 0345 300 3900. You’ll need to have the following information ready when you call:

  • Your income for the last tax year if you were employed (this runs from April 6th of one year to April 5th of the following year). You can find this on your P60 or final payslip for the tax year
  • Your income for the last year if you were self-employed
  • Details of any benefits you receive e.g. contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Carer’s Allowance
  • Details of any other income e.g. savings interest, pensions or rent
  • Details of any childcare payments you make, and if you use a Ofsted registered or approved provider
  • National insurance number

 

Important points to remember

Many things can affect tax credits – if you have a new baby, if your child turns 16, if you change your working hours, leave your job or cannot work due to illness, if you move in with a partner, split up from a partner and more.

It may sound complex but the point is, everyone’s situation is different and you won’t know what you’re entitled to unless you ask.

 

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About Celyn Parry

About Celyn Parry

Celyn Parry has 12 years experience working with a leading children’s retailer but is now focusing on her passion for writing. With many years spent on the shop floor listening to parents, she prides herself on creating down to earth articles with a dash of humour and personal insight. As Step-Mum to adorable chatterbox Max, it’s a bit of a juggling act but it certainly keeps things interesting!

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