⚠️ Universal Credit (UC) is a new benefit which will eventually replace tax credits, and some other social security benefits. Universal credit is now available across the UK and HMRC state that most people are no longer able to make a brand-new claim for tax credits and are expected to claim UC (or pension credit) instead. Existing tax credit claimants (under state pension age or in a mixed age couple) are expected to be moved across to universal credit by September 2024 following a pilot exercise involving no more than 10,000 people, although this may change due to the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK. You can find out more about this in our universal credit section.
Can I backdate my claim to tax credits?
Tax credits and benefits
This page tells you about the date of your claim or change and treating the claim or change as if it was made earlier or backdating.
Please note, now that UC is available across the UK, HMRC most people can no longer make a brand new clam for tax credits. If you are no longer able to make a brand new claim for tax credits, the standard backdating and the longer backdating rules for new claims will not apply even if you would have been able to claim tax credits had you claimed on the earlier date. See Who can claim tax credits?. The information on this page assumes a new claim for tax credits is possible.
The date you are paid tax credits from is usually the date your claim is taken over the phone by HMRC (previously, when paper claim forms were used, this was the date HMRC received your claim form) – this is your date of claim. However, you can be paid for an earlier period in certain circumstances. This is called backdating.
Can all claims be backdated?
If you met the qualifying rules before your date of claim, HMRC will backdate your claim up to 31 days.
If you are claiming child tax credit (CTC) only or CTC and working tax credit (WTC), this should happen automatically.
If you are claiming WTC only, you should attach a letter to your claim form asking for this backdating.
You will only get backdating for the period you met the qualifying rules; so if you only met the rules, for example, two weeks before your date of claim, you will only get two weeks' extra money. You should check your tax credits award notices carefully to make sure any backdating has been included properly.
If you think you should have received backdating and have not, then once you get your first award notice you will need to ask for the decision to be reconsidered, and if necessary, then appeal the decision. See our appeals section for information on how to do this.
If you claimed childcare support through the Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) scheme before claiming tax credits, the 31 days backdating may be limited to the date your TFC support ended as you cannot claim TFC and tax credits at the same time. The exception to this is where you have opened a TFC account and subsequently closed it without paying any money out of that account in which case the tax credit claim can be backdated by up to 31 days into the TFC entitlement period.
See below for information about backdating and universal credit.
Can I backdate the date of a change?
If your circumstances change while you are on tax credits, and you qualify for extra elements to be included, you should contact HMRC straight away so they can be added to your claim. If you met the rules for the new elements before you told HMRC about the change, they can backdate the change to your award up to 1 month, but you will need to ask for this. This 1 month time limit is extended to 3 months for critical workers until the end of the job retention scheme.
Are there any exceptions to the 31-day limit?
Some claims (and changes of circumstances) can be backdated longer than 31 days. This is where:
- a qualifying disability benefit is paid, or
- an asylum seeker is granted refugee status.
These are the only exceptions to the 31-day/one-month backdating rules. Some disability benefit claims (and asylum applications) take months, even years, to get sorted out and you could miss out on a lot of tax credits if you do not ask for backdating at the right time.
Backdating and disability elements
The disability-related elements of CTC and WTC are only included if you, or someone in your family, get certain disability benefits or payments. Sometimes, these start being paid once you have made your tax credit claim, or you need to wait until the benefit starts to be paid to qualify for WTC. If you have had to wait to hear about getting a disability benefit paid, you might want to have your tax credits backdated to the date you claimed it.
These rules only apply if you are able to make a brand new tax credit claim at the point you hear about the outcome of your disability benefit. If, by the time you hear about your disability benefit, you can no longer make a claim for tax credits then you will not be able to access the longer backdating even if you could have claimed tax credits at an earlier date. Instead, you will need to claim UC.
New claims (WTC)
Some people may only qualify for WTC if they meet the criteria for the disability element of WTC. If you have claimed a relevant disability benefit that will give you entitlement to WTC (including the disability element) you need to make your claim for WTC within 31 days of the decision on your disability benefit.
If you make the claim within 31 days, your WTC will be backdated to the start date of your disability benefit (as long as you met the other qualifying conditions for WTC during that period) or, if later, the date you started to meet the other qualifying conditions for WTC. This means that if it takes some time to decide your disability benefit entitlement, you will not lose out on any WTC.
If you claim universal credit our understanding is that you cannot also make a claim for tax credits to cover a backdated period leading up to your universal credit claim.
Andrea is single, aged 30, is a frontier worker and works 25 hours a week. She is not entitled to WTC because she does not work 30 hours. Andrea applies for personal independence payment (PIP) due to her disability on 1 May 2021. She receives a letter dated 6 December 2021 awarding her PIP from 1 May 2021. Providing she makes her claim for WTC within 31 days of 6 December 2021, her WTC claim will be backdated to 1 May 2021.
If she does not make the claim within those 31 days, she can still claim WTC but will only receive 31 days' backdating.
Changes of circumstances
If you now qualify for extra elements to be included because you (or someone in your family) start getting a qualifying benefit, you should contact HMRC straight away so they can be added to your claim. You should be able to have the extra elements added in from the date you claimed the disability benefit provided you tell HMRC within one month of the date of the decision on the qualifying benefit claim. This one month time limit has been extended to 3 months for critical workers until the end of the job retentions scheme.
Sandra applies for Disability Living Allowance for her daughter Amy on 10 May 2021. The DLA is not awarded until 12 October 2021. As long as Sandra tells HMRC that Amy has been awarded DLA within 1 month she will receive backdating of the disabled child element of CTC to 10 May 2021.
Backdating earlier awards
Sometimes the date the disability benefit is awarded from falls into a previous tax year. Where this happens, the backdating rules still apply providing you tell HMRC within one month of the date of the decision on the qualifying benefit claim.
Bruno works 30 hours a week and claims WTC. He applies for Personal Independence Payment on 4 November 2020. The PIP is awarded on 12 August 2021. As long as Bruno tells HMRC within one month of the date the PIP decision is made, HMRC will be able to add the disability element to his ongoing award and also review his award from 2020-2021 to include the disability element from 4 November 2020.
What happens if I have been granted refugee status?
If you are granted refugee status, your claim for tax credits can be backdated to the date you claimed asylum, but only if you claim tax credits within one month of the decision granting you refugee status. Any backdated tax credit payments you get will be reduced by the amount of Government support you were given for living expenses during the time you were waiting for your asylum claim to be decided. If you have already had a backdated payment of a social security benefit reduced because of this, you should be paid the full backdated amount of tax credits.
If you claim universal credit you cannot also make a claim tax credits to cover a backdated period leading up to your universal credit claim.
What if my change of circumstances reduces my tax credit award?
If your change means you are entitled to a lower amount of tax credits, HMRC will backdate the change to when it happened, regardless of when you tell them. You must tell them about some changes that happen within a month, otherwise they might charge you a penalty for not telling them. See our section on changes of circumstances to find out more about what you need to notify and when.
This page gives an overview of backdating tax credit claims and changes. For more detailed information, visit the following page on our website for adviser.