avatar

Tax credits – update on the new 24 working hours requirement for couples with children

by Tax Faculty Team on 03.04.2012 03:54

A new exception for those entitled to carer’s allowance – and make sure HMRC knows your circumstances

 

There are important changes to rules for working tax credit (WTC) and child tax credit (CTC) from 6 April 2012. Full details are in a previous news item.

 

One important change is that from April 2012, couples with children must work 24 hours a week between them, with at least one working 16 hours, to qualify for WTC. For 2011/12 and earlier years the minimum requirement is 16 hours a week.

 

New exception for carers

However, there are some exceptions to the 24-hour requirement. Couples will still qualify for WTC if one partner works at least 16 hours a week and the other partner is incapacitated, an in-patient in hospital, in prison, or entitled to carer’s allowance.

 

The exception for those entitled to carer’s allowance has only recently been introduced, as the result of lobbying by voluntary sector groups.

 

Being ‘entitled’ to carer’s allowance means that either one partner receives carer’s allowance, or that they qualify for carer’s allowance but are not actually paid it because they receive other benefits instead.

 

Tell HMRC if you are an exception

From 6 April 2012, HMRC will stop WTC for most couples with children who do not work at least 24 hours a week between them.

 

This will include some claimants who are in the excepted categories and so can qualify if they work at least 16 hours a week between them. HMRC will stop their credits unless it knows that the couple are in one of the excepted categories – and it may not know. We understand that HMRC does not hold information about who qualifies for these exceptions, although it may try to identify those who qualify under the carers exception.

 

Claimants affected by this should contact HMRC as soon as possible and make it knows that they are covered by one of the exceptions and should still get WTC if they meet the 16 hours requirement.