Tax credits when your partner leaves or a new partner moves in

If you split up with a partner - or a new partner moves in - your current tax credits claim will come to an end. You may need to make a new single or joint claim to make sure you’re getting the right tax credits payments. You need to report the change to the Tax Credit Office within one month.

On this page:

Tell the Tax Credit Office about partnership changes

You must contact the Tax Credit Helpline - within one month - 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 get married or enter into a civil partnership
  • you start living with someone as though you are married or in a civil partnership

Contact details for the Tax Credit Helpline

If you don't report these changes you may be paid the wrong amount of tax credits. In some cases you may be paid too much (called an 'overpayment').

You'll usually have to pay back any overpayments and you may be charged a penalty.

Changes you need to report and when for tax credits

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You've split up from your partner - effect on tax credits

If you're married or in a civil partnership your joint claim ends when you have legally separated or your separation is likely to be permanent

If you've been living with someone as if you’re married or civil partners, your joint claim ends when you stop living with that person.

You need to make a single claim if you are no longer part of a couple. You can do this by calling the Tax Credit Helpline. You are then paid tax credits as a single person, as long as you still qualify.

If you don't qualify any more, you may have to pay back any money you shouldn't have had from when your joint claim should have ended. That's why you should report the change straight away.

Contact details for the Tax Credit Helpline

Check if you qualify for tax credits - quick questionnaire

Tax credits calculator - find out how much you might get

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You start living with your partner - effect on tax credits

If you're already getting tax credits as a single person

If you're getting tax credits as a single person, you need to make a new joint claim if one of the following applies:

  • you get married or enter into a civil partnership
  • you start living with someone as though you are married or in a civil partnership

Contact the Tax Credit Helpline to get a claim form.

Your old single claim comes to an end on the day you:

  • get married
  • become civil partners
  • start living with someone as though you are married or in a civil partnership

You are then paid tax credits as a couple, as long as you still qualify.

Your partner's personal circumstances, such as their income and any hours they work, are taken into account when your new payments are worked out. You may get more - or less - money.

If you don't qualify any more, you may have to pay back any money you shouldn't have had from when your single claim should have ended. That’s why you should report the change straight away.

Contact details for the Tax Credit Helpline

Check if you qualify for tax credits - quick questionnaire

Tax credits calculator - find out how much you might get

If you're already getting tax credits as a couple

You may already be getting tax credits as part of a couple, for example because one of the following applies to you:

  • you're married
  • you're in a civil partnership
  • you're living with someone as if you are married or in a civil partnership

You need to make a brand new joint claim if you start living with, marry, or enter into a civil partnership with a different partner.

Contact the Tax Credit Helpline to get a claim form.

Your old claim will come to an end on the day you:

  • get married
  • become civil partners
  • start living together as though you are married or civil partners

Contact details for the Tax Credit Helpline

Your new partner's personal circumstances, such as their income and any hours they work, are taken into account when your new payments are worked out. You may get more - or less - money.

If you don't qualify any more, you may have to pay back any money you shouldn't have had from when your old claim should have ended. That’s why you should report the change straight away.

Check if you qualify for tax credits - quick questionnaire

Tax credits calculator - find out how much you might get

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What happens after you've made a new claim?

You'll get a new award notice telling you whether you still qualify for tax credits and if so, how much you'll get from now on.

Please check that your details are correct on the new award notice.

Get help with understanding your tax credits award notice

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What happens if you don’t report a change?

You may be paid too much in tax credits - an overpayment - if you don't report a change in your relationship.

The longer you take to report a change in your relationship, the bigger any overpayment could be.

However the Tax Credit Office may consider reducing the amount you have to pay back. For this to happen, you need to have set up a new claim as a single person or a joint claim with your new partner.

The Tax Credit Office will work out what you would have been paid for your new claim, if you'd told them about the change on time. They will then take that amount off your overpayment.

If you think this applies to you, you should call the Tax Credit Helpline.

Contact details for the Tax Credit Helpline

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You've had a 'Your award as a single person' letter

You may have received a letter from the Tax Credit Office about your tax credits award as a single person.

If you get one of these letters you'll need to send certain information to the Tax Credit Office. This is to help them check that the information they have about you is right. The letter will give you a phone number to call if you have any questions, or difficulty providing the information.

Follow the link below to find out more.

'Your award as a single person' letter – what you need to do

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Repaying an overpayment

If you have an overpayment on a joint claim that's come to an end, the Tax Credit Office will ask you to pay it back. This is called a direct payment. You might still qualify for tax credits either as a single person, or with a different partner. But even if you do, the Tax Credit Office won't be able to collect the money by reducing your new tax credits award.

If you and your ex-partner had a joint tax credits claim, the Tax Credit Office will write to you both about any overpayment. They will tell you the total amount due. You and your ex-partner are jointly responsible for paying it back.

You have separated and have a joint tax credits overpayment

If you have difficulty paying the money back you should call the Tax Credits Payment Helpline on Tel 0345 302 1429. You may be able to pay the money you owe in instalments.

Difficulty repaying overpaid tax credits?

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More useful links

When to make a joint or single tax credits claim

How your tax credits entitlement is worked out

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