Sometimes it's worth making a tax credits claim even if you think that you're not going to be paid anything. You might want to do this if your income is too high at the moment, but it might go down later in the year.
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When you make a claim for tax credits, any payments you're entitled to can usually only be backdated by up to one month. However, you can claim early - that is before you think you might be able to get tax credits. This means any future payments will be protected against only being backdated by one month.
If you're expecting your income to go down, you should make a tax credits claim at the start of the year just in case this happens. Any tax credit payments will then be backdated to the date you made your claim. You might want to do this if for example, you're self-employed or your work is seasonal, or you might be made redundant.
Maria lives with her partner. They both work, and she knows that their joint income is too high for them to get tax credits now. But she also knows that her firm will be closing down and she will be made redundant later in the year. This means their income is likely to go down.
They make a claim for tax credits on 6 April. They then receive an award notice telling them that they will not be paid any tax credits because their income is too high. On 10 October when Maria's firm closes down, she contacts the Tax Credit Helpline and tells them that her income has gone down. She gives an estimate of what her joint income with her partner will be for the year. Their lower income means they are entitled to tax credits from 6 April.
Don't delay in making your tax credits claim - it's best to claim as soon as possible so that you get all the money you're entitled to.
Tax credits are paid for a full tax year. A tax year runs from 6 April one year to 5 April the next. You can protect your right to tax credits for the full tax year. To do this, the Tax Credit Office must receive your claim within one month of the start of the tax year. So this would be no later than 5 May.
You make a claim for tax credits on 1 May, but you don't qualify until 1 November - when your income goes down. Your payments will be backdated to 6 April.
However if you wait and make the same claim on 6 September, your payments will only be backdated by one month to 6 August. So you'll miss out on four month's payments.
To claim, you'll need to fill in a claim form. You can only get a claim form by ringing the Tax Credit Helpline.