Depending on your personal circumstances and earnings you may be eligible for some financial assistance through Working Tax Credit. This is a top up to wages for people aged over 16 who are on low incomes.
To be eligible a single person with children must work at least 16 hours a week and a couple must work a minimum of 24 hours a week between them. This means:
- if you both work your joint weekly hours must be at least 24, with one of you working at least 16 hours a week.
- if only one of you works, that person must be working at least 24 hours a week.
However, couples with at least one child who work for less than 24 hours may still be able to claim if one of the following applies:
- you work at least 16 hours a week and your partner is incapacitated (receiving certain benefits because of disability or ill health), is entitled to Carer's Allowance or is in hospital or prison.
- you work at least 16 hours a week and you're disabled or aged 60 or above.
Childcare element of the Working Tax Credit
This is aimed at helping working parents cover childcare costs. Working parents can claim up to 70% of their childcare costs up to a maximum of £122.50 (70% of £175) per week for one child and £210 (70% of £300) for two or more children. Any costs that you pay in excess of these amounts are not used in the calculation.
The childcare must be registered with Ofsted and can include childminders, day nurseries, pre schools, breakfast clubs, after school clubs, out of school activity clubs and holiday playschemes.
You may also be eligible to claim Free childcare for 2 year olds (FEET) at your childcare provider if your annual income is up to £16,190.
If you are receiving childcare vouchers from your employer it can affect your entitlement to tax credits. By reducing your salary you may be entitled to a higher element of the Working Tax Credit but this could reduce your entitlement to the childcare element of the credit.
If you want to know whether you'd be better off receiving the vouchers or claiming for help with childcare costs through tax credits, you can use the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) better off calculator.
How to claim
Although the HMRC administer Tax Credits they are not tax allowances and have to be claimed. You can find out if you may be eligible by using the tax credit calculator on the gov.uk website.
If you are already claiming tax credits and your circumstances change make sure you inform HMRC as it could affect the amount of tax credit you receive.
For more information about tax credits visit the Gov.uk website or phone the Tax Credit Helpline on 0345 300 3900.