Act now to make sure tax credits payments for your 16-19 year old don’t stop

4 mins read

Tuesday 25 August 2020

If you have a 16-19 year old who’ll be staying in school or college after the summer holidays, remember to let the Tax Credit Office know by the 31st August or you could lose out on tax credits payments.

Keep the Tax Credit Office informed or payments will stop

Our welfare rights expert Derek Sinclair said:

“The Tax Credit Office always assumes that a 16-year-old is a school leaver during the summer. As a result, they automatically stop any tax credit payments for a young person from 1 September.

“In order for your payments to continue, you must contact the Tax Credit Office to confirm details of the course your 16-year-old will be doing after the summer.

“You still need to do this even if you live in England – despite the fact that 16-year-olds in England are required to remain in education or training until they are 18. This is because the definition of approved education that is used by tax credits is different from that used by the Department for Education.”

Similar rule applies to 17, 18 and 19-year-olds

“As well as 16-year-olds, a similar rule applies to 17, 18 and 19-year-olds. This means you also need to let the Tax Credit Office know if you have a 17, 18 or 19-year-old who is staying in full-time non-advanced education or approved training after the summer. If you don’t, payments for them are likely to stop.”

To make sure that your tax credit payments aren’t reduced, call the Tax Credit Office on 0345 300 3900. You should also contact the Child Benefit office to let them know separately on 0300 200 3100. Alternatively you can let them both know online if you have a government gateway account. This allows you to update both your child tax credit and child benefit information at the same time.

So long as you contact the Tax Credit Office by 31 August either by phone or online, your tax credit payments should not be affected.

If you miss that deadline, phone the Tax Credit Office as soon as you can to make sure that payments for your 16-19 year old are re-instated as quickly as possible. The maximum these payments can be backdated is one month, so if you don’t tell them until after 31 September you will end up losing out.

Missing the deadline may be a particular problem if your 16-19 year old is the only child you get tax credits for. If that applies your tax credits could stop altogether. If that happens and you try and reclaim, HMRC may argue that you have to claim Universal Credit instead. You should be able to challenge this, so seek further advice if you find yourself in this position.

When can tax credit payments continue?

You can continue to get child tax credit payments for your child if they attend a course of non-advanced education that averages more than 12 hours supervised study a week or if they are on a study programme (England only). Payments can also continue if they are attending certain types of approved training.

If your child is temporarily out of education due to ill-health but intends to return to full time non-advanced education in the future, contact our free helpline for further advice.

Claiming Universal Credit rather than tax credits?

Even if your child remains in education, you won’t be able to continue getting tax credits for them if they are claiming Universal Credit in their own right as a disabled adult.

Some families might be better off claiming Universal Credit for a disabled 16-19-year-old rather than tax credits and child benefit for them. But others will be worse off. Ultimately this will depend on your own family circumstances, so you will need to get individual advice. In addition, it can be difficult, although not impossible to get an award of Universal Credit for someone who is receiving education.