To be entitled to tax credits you must claim them. There is no entitlement without a claim.
In the early years of the tax credits system, it was possible to claim online. This facility was withdrawn due to fraudulent attacks. The majority of claimants will now need to obtain a paper claim form from HMRC, although there are some other methods of claiming that are available to certain groups of claimants which are explained below.
Obtaining a paper claim form
The paper claim form is called the TC600. You can find a sample of the current form in our forms, notices and checklists section. The primary way of obtaining a claim form is from the tax credits helpline (0345 300 3900 or textphone 0345 300 3909). Some advice organisations also carry stocks of forms, although HMRC are reducing the organisations who can do so.
It is standard procedure for the Tax Credits helpline to ask for the claimant’s name, address and National Insurance number when they request a claim form. The helpline may also ask the claimant some questions to estimate what their entitlement might be. In some cases, the helpline may refuse to issue a claim form as they believe that the claimant does not meet the criteria, or the claimant does not have a national insurance number or the entitlement check shows entitlement as NIL. This should not happen and if it does full details of the date, time and operator name should be taken and used to prepare a complaint. It is not the function of the helpline to make a decision on entitlement to tax credits, especially not on the basis of a single phone call.
The paper claim form can also be requested by submitting an on-line request via GOV.UK. Anyone using this service is advised to run through either HMRC’s ‘Do I qualify ’questionnaire or HMRC’s tax credits calculator first, the on-line claim form request automatically becomes available at the end of either of those services. Even if the online calculator suggests you may not be able to claim, if you are unsure or your circumstances are complicated you may want to request a form anyway. (It is unclear whether HMRC have introduced this service temporarily to improve their customer service during the annual renewal period when it can be more difficult to get through on their tax credit helpline or whether this is a more permanent on-line option and we will update this information once the position is confirmed).
Security procedures -
In 2010, HMRC introduced a new security procedure whereby they require people to answer questions based on their Experian credit data. Initially it appeared that if the claimant could not answer these questions, HMRC were refusing to issue a claim form unless the claimant attended an interview at an enquiry centre. If the claimant did not have a national insurance number, they would not be able to go through the security procedure. However, HMRC staff had an alternative set of questions for such situations. Following an impact assessment consultation about the new security procedures, HMRC agreed to pilot issuing claim forms without requiring the claimant to answer security questions. This pilot remains ongoing.
Full details of the IDAS security procedure can be found in our dealing with HMRC section. Information for obtaining a national insurance number can be found on the DWP website .
One point to note about the new security arrangements was that advisers could no longer request forms on behalf of claimants as the new process required the claimant to pass the security checks. Since the pilot commenced allowing forms to be issued without going through the additional security checks, it is unclear of the position for advisers who want to request a form without the claimant being present. Members of the Benefits and Credits Consultation Group (BCCG) have raised this and other related problems with HMRC.
In and out of work process (IOW)
The IOW process is aimed at those claiming income-based jobseeker’s allowance and income support to enable their benefit claims to be quicker and
easier when moving in and out of work.
The new process was originally tested in six pilot areas from September 2007. More information about the pilots and their evaluation can be found in the DWP evaluation report. From December 2008 to March 2010, the process was rolled out nationally.
The basis of the process is that when a claimant moves from benefits into work, they will be able to end their out-of-work benefits and claim their in-work benefits in one phone call. Similarly if they stop working, the process works in reverse ensuring their in-work benefits stop when they should and enabling claims to out-of-work benefits.
The process is led by Jobcentre Plus. The claimant makes a single call to them and they take the relevant information and pass it to Local Authorities (for housing benefit and council tax benefit) and to HMRC for tax credits.
From a tax credits perspective there are some points to note:
- Jobcentre Plus will complete a TC600 tax credit claim form over the phone for anyone who comes within the scope of the IOW process and who does not already have a claim. This TC600 form will then be sent electronically to HMRC by Jobcentre Plus. The claimant will then be asked to sign their first award notice. It is important to note that claimants do not automatically receive a copy of the claim form notes during this process.
- If a claimant is already receiving tax credits, Jobcentre Plus will carry out a three-way telephone call with the claimant and HMRC to amend the tax credits claim.
Fast track claims via Jobcentre Plus
A fast track process is in place between Jobcentre Plus and HMRC for certain types of claim. Historically this included anyone moving from a Jobcentre Plus benefit into work, or for those claiming a Jobcentre Plus benefit making a claim for child tax credit. The In and Out of Work process has meant the fast track is no longer needed for many of these claims.
However, there are still some customers of Jobcentre Plus who will still require a claim for tax credits and who cannot be helped through the In and Out of Work process.
In particular the process can be used for refugees who wish to claim tax credits, one of the benefits being that Jobcentre Plus can verify documentation which should ensure the claim is put into payment more quickly.
The process is manual and requires Jobcentre Plus to complete a TC600 claim form and send it with a pro-forma to a specialist unit in HMRC. This means that it should be dealt with much quicker than the normal HMRC channels, although it should be noted that the claim may still be subject to various pre-award checks. HMRC guidance suggests that claims should be put into payment within 7 working days.
This can be a useful process for vulnerable claimants and Jobcentre Plus staff should be reminded of the process to ensure it is used in appropriate cases. There is some HMRC guidance about the process on their website, although this makes reference to an E-Portal that is no longer in use. The process is clerical as described above.
Tell us once – telephone claims
The ‘Tell us Once ’ service for reporting a death was rolled out in England, Scotland and Wales during 2011. Initially used for reporting deaths, it is currently being extended to include a birth service. If someone reports a death to a registrar and wants to take part in Tell us Once. Information about the death with be passed to HMRC for tax credits purposes.
Part of the service includes the registrar helping new parents fill in their child benefit claim form. In addition, parents who are on certain benefits (the full list of benefits have not yet been confirmed although it is likely to be income based benefits) will be given a special phone number for HMRC Tax Credit Office which will allow them to make a fast track claim over the phone.