Child Benefit and tax credits

Child Benefit and tax credits can be a big boost to the family budget. You need to claim for each of them, they’re not paid automatically. Make sure you claim - within one month from baby’s birth for tax credits and three months for Child Benefit.

Both of these benefits can help your family finances stay MoneyFit, but governments can change the amounts, or eligibility criteria, so it's probably best not to rely on them too much.

Child Benefit

Who can claim Child Benefit?

You can claim Child Benefit for each child you are responsible for (you do not have to be their parent) regardless of whether you are working or have savings. 

You can claim for each child

If your child starts paid work for 24 hours or more a week and is no longer in approved education or training, your Child Benefit will stop. The same applies if your child starts an apprenticeship or starts receiving certain benefits in their own right.

Payments are tax free as long as neither parent earns more than £50,000 a year. 

Find out more about Child Benefit if you earn more than £50,000 a year.

Find out more about Child Benefit eligibility on Gov.uk. Alternatively call the Child Benefit Helpline on 0300 200 3100.

If you’re posted abroad

You could get Child Benefit while you're working abroad so long as just before you were posted abroad you were either:

  • living in the UK and it was your main home, or
  • in the UK for reasons relating to your posting - not just visiting before your posting began.

It doesn't matter whether your child goes with you or stays in the UK.

You need to let the Child Benefit Office know if this applies to you. You can do this online on the HMRC website, or you can call the Child Benefit Helpline.

How much is Child Benefit?

In the 2019/20 tax year, you can claim: 

  • £20.70 per week for your first child 
  • £13.70 a week for any further children. 
That’s  more than £1,000 a year if you have one child and an extra £700 for subsequent children. 

Child Benefit for people earning more than £50,000

If you or your partner earns over £50,000 a year, you can still claim Child Benefit. However, you’ll start to pay back some of it back in extra Income Tax. 

You'll need to pay back 1% of your family's Child Benefit for every  £100 of your income over £50,000. 

If either of you earn over £60,000 a year, you will have to repay all of your Child Benefit in the form of extra Income Tax.

It can be worth continuing to claim Child Benefit and paying it back, depending on your circumstances.

Find out more in Child Benefit if earning above £50,000.

How to apply for Child Benefit

You need to fill out a claim form (CH2) and send it to the Child Benefit Office along with your child’s original birth certificate (which you’ll get back). 

If you don’t have the certificate you can send in the form anyway and forward in the certificate as soon as you have it. Download the Child Benefit claim form from the Gov.uk website.

If your child is adopted, send their original adoption certificate with the form. You can order a new adoption certificate if you’ve lost the original.

Top tip: Claim Child Benefit as soon as your child is born

You’ll have lots of other things to do and remember in the first few weeks, but it’s worth claiming straight away because your Child Benefit payments can only be backdated three months from the date your application is received

Why it's important to claim Child Benefit

Claiming Child Benefit will help you protect your State Pension.

If you’re off work looking after your child and not paying National Insurance, claiming Child Benefit will ensure you get credits towards your State Pension. 

If you don't claim you might also miss out on:

  • Other benefits, such as Guardian's Allowance, and
  • Your child being automatically issued with a National Insurance number before their 16th birthday.

Even if you don't think you'll be entitled to anything because either you or your partner earns over the £50,000 tax-free limit, it's still worth claiming so you don't miss out on National Insurance credits. 

If either of you earns over £60,000, you can always opt not to receive the payments - and avoid the tax charge - but still get the entitlements.

Find out more about Child Benefit and the State Pension on Gov.uk.

Tax credits

Tax credits can be worth thousands of pounds each year. Eligibility depends on your household income, but you may be surprised how much you can earn and still qualify.

Tax credits are payments from the government straight into your bank account. Many people become eligible for tax credits when they have a baby. You can even claim them if you are posted abroad.  There are two types – Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit – and with a new baby you might be eligible for one or both. 

Child Tax Credit

If you have a new baby or you're responsible for any children under 16, you could get Child Tax Credit. You can also qualify if you have children aged 16 to 19 studying in sixth form or further education college. Make sure you claim within one month of your baby's birth because payments can normally only be backdated for one month. Find out more about Child Tax Credit on the Gov.uk website.

Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit is based on the hours you work and how much you earn. It doesn’t matter whether you're an employee or self-employed. If you go back to work after having a baby you might be able to claim Working Tax Credit to help with the costs of childcare.

Find out more about tax credits to help with childcare costs on the Gov.uk website.

Use the Tax credits calculator on the HM Revenue & Customs website to find out if you qualify and get a rough idea of how much you could be entitled to.

Can you claim tax credits during maternity and paternity leave?

Your entitlement to Child Tax Credit is not affected when you're on maternity or paternity leave.

With Working Tax Credit, whether or not you're still eligible depends on your usual working hours before you went on leave, the length of time you’re off work and the hours your partner works.

More about tax credit rules when your circumstances change on the Gov.uk website.

Get what you’re due and avoid overpayments

Tax credit awards are estimates, so once they are finalised after the end of the tax year (5 April) you may owe the Tax Credit Office money or they may owe you some.

Make sure that if your circumstances change during the year you tell the Tax Credit Office straight away. This should mean you can avoid having to pay the money back, and will ensure that any increases can be paid to you straight away.

Call the Tax Credits helpline on 0345 300 3900 to let them know about any changes to your circumstances.

Last reviewed: 08/04/2019