Jobcentre Plus help with Tax Credits?

These days the job centre offers far more than a few vacancies posted on a noticeboard and somewhere to go to sign on. They offer a range of services including helping people understand the range of benefits and tax credits that they might be entitled to as part of a comprehensive end-to-end service for those without work or claiming benefits.

If you want to find your local Job Centre Office then we have them all on UK Jobs Guide in our Job Centre Online site section.

We have addressed the range of benefits your local Jobcentre Plus can help you with here [link] and on this page we examine which Tax Credits they can help you with.

What is a Tax Credit?

A tax credit is another type of government funded benefit. They are designed to provide extra money for people who have children, are in employment but on low income, or are responsible for a disabled worker.

Unlike other benefits, tax credits are tax free, which means claimants do not need have tax record, or National Insurance contributions history to claim. They are however means tested, so you will only be deemed eligible if your income is below a certain level.

There are two types of tax credits – Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits – and claimants might be eligible to just apply for one, or for both depending on their circumstances.

Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credits are a payment made by government to top up the earnings of workers who are on low pay or who have a disability. They are made up of a number of different elements, and you may be entitled to just one or any combination of these. The combination of elements you are entitled to dictates the amount of money you will be paid.

The elements of Working Tax Credit are:

  • You are a couple applying together – entitled to up to £1,990 a year.
  • You work at least thirty hours a week – up to £800 a year
  • You have a disability – up to £2,935 a year
  • You have a severe disability – up to £1,255 a year extra
  • You are a single parent – up to £1,990 a year
  • You pay for approved childcare – up to £122.50 a week (1 child) or £210  week (2 or more children)

Everyone who qualifies is also entitled to the basic element which is currently £1,940 a year.

To be eligible to claim Working Tax Credits, you will usually have to fit into the following criteria:

  • Work at least 30 hours a week
  • Be aged 25 years or above
  • Be earning less than £13,253 if you are single, or £18,023 jointly as a couple

If you are disabled, or have children, are aged 16 and above, and work at least 16 hours a week, you may also be eligible.

How do I claim Working Tax Credits?

Obviously Working Tax Credits are only available to people who are in employment. However if you are about to start a new job, and will be eligible for Working Tax Credit, your Jobcentre Plus adviser will be able to help you complete the application.

You can get a Claims form by contacting the Tax Credit Helpline. Details are at the bottom of this page. The form will usually take around two weeks to arrive. Your adviser will help you calculate what you are eligible for, how it will affect any other benefits you are on, and help you to submit the form.

If you are moving from benefits into employment, you are able to start claiming Working Tax Credits one week before you start your new job. Make sure you don’t miss this bonus period.

From your initial application onwards, all changes to your Working Tax Credit must be administered through the Tax Credits helpline. You must also advise them at the earliest opportunity of any changes to your situation which will affect your Tax Credits. Failure to do so will most likely see you penalised. You will have to renew your claim at the start of each new tax year.

To find out more about Working Tax Credits, visit the official Government website.

Child Tax Credit

Child Tax Credits are available if you are responsible for at least one child aged either under 16, or under 20 and undertaking an approved training or education course.

You are eligible to claim child tax credits whether you are employed or unemployed, and any claim for Child Tax Credits will not affect your Child Benefit in any way.

As with Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credits are made up of a number of different elements. Claimants are entitled to claim one, some, or all of these, depending on their eligibility.

The elements of Child Tax Credits are:

  • For each child – up to £2,750 a year
  • For each disabled child – up to £3,100 a year extra
  • For each severely disabled child – up to £1,255 on top of the first two elements.

To be classified as being responsible for the child, you must also be considered to fit one of the following categories:

  • They live with you all the time
  • They normally live with you/you are the main carer
  • They keep their toys and clothes at your home
  • You pay for their meals and give them pocket money
  • They live within the European Economic Area (or in Switzerland) but are financially dependent on you.

Eligibility is also means tested, and as the total household income increases, the amount paid out decreases. The more children in the family, the higher the household income can be before you become ineligible.

How do I claim Child Tax Credits?

Again, if you are currently unemployed or using Jobcentre Plus to claim other benefits, you can get advice and support from your Jobcentre Plus adviser on how to claim Child Tax Credits.

You will still need to get a Claims form by contacting the Tax Credit Helpline (details below) which will usually take around two weeks to arrive.

And again after assistance with your initial application, as well as guidance on whether or not this will affect any of your other benefits, you will have to conduct all future administration around your Child Tax Credits with the Tax Credits Helpline.

It is worth noting that only one household can claim Child Tax Credits for each child, and new claims can take at least five weeks to be processed. Again, you will have to renew you claim each tax year.

To find out more about Child Tax Credits, visit the official Government website.

 

How do I contact the Tax Credit Helpline?

There are a number of ways you can contact the Tax Credit Helpline directly. If you are seeking the advice of your Jobcentre Plus adviser, they may be willing to make initial contact on your behalf.

Telephone: Recommended for any advice or guidance needed, or to inform them if your circumstances change.

Telephone:  0345 300 3900

Textphone:  0345 300 3909

Outside UK:  +44 2890 538 192

The lines are open from 8am – 8pm Monday – Friday, 8am – 4pm on Saturdays, but are closed on Sundays, and the Christmas/New Year bank holidays.

It is recommended that you avoid calling between 8.30am – 10.30am and 2pm-4pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, as the line is particularly busy at those times.

Post: If you are submitting a form by post, you should send it to the following address:

 

HM Revenue and Customs - Tax credits

Comben House

Farriers Way

Netherton

L75 1WB

United Kingdom

 

Any complaints or written letters informing of a change in your circumstances should be submitted to the following address.

HM Revenue and Customs - Tax Credit Office

Preston

PR1 4AT

United Kingdom

 

You should clearly mark on your letter what type of correspondence it is.

What about Universal Credit

Tax Credits are to be phased out shortly, as they are subsumed in the Universal Credit scheme. This is intended to bring all such benefits together in one simple monthly payment, and make the whole process simpler for claimants.  

Universal Credit is currently being piloted at a number of locations across the country. Currently it has been rolled out at:

  • Bath
  • Hammersmith, London
  • Harrogate
  • Inverness
  • North-West England
  • Shotton, Wales
  • Sutton

 

Your local Jobcentre Plus should be able to let you know when it is likely to arrive in your area and advise you on how this will affect you.

For more details on how Universal Credit works check out the official Universal Credit website.  

How to contact Jobcentre Plus

If you need to contact your local Jobcentre Plus for help in claiming Tax Credits, you can just drop in but it is recommended that you make an appointment with your local branch.

You can find your local Jobcentre Plus by using our Job Centre Online section or simply call one of the following numbers on Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm:

Telephone: 0845 606 0234

Telephone (Welsh): 0845 606 7890

Textphone: 0845 605 5255

 

More Reading and Help:

  • For more information about Jobcentre Plus, including where your local office is, and how to contact it directly, go to the Government website.
  • Check out this list of Government approved Benefits Calculators to work out what you are entitled to.

 

Information correct as Feb 2015


 
 
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