⚠️ Universal Credit (UC) is gradually replacing tax credits, and some other social security benefits. Universal credit is now available across the UK and HMRC state that it is no longer possible for anyone to make a brand-new claim for tax credits. Instead, people are expected to claim UC or pension credit if appropriate. Existing tax credit claimants can continue to renew their tax credits and/or add extra elements to their claim. See our tax credit page for more information. Our understanding is that the majority of existing tax credit claimants will move to either universal credit or pension credit. It is expected that the majority of people who have not reached state pension age, and who continue to claim tax credits, will be invited to move to UC by the end of 2024. You can find out more about this in our universal credit section. 

How are tax credits paid?

Updated on 18 April 2023

Tax credits and benefits

Tax credits are usually paid straight into your bank account, by direct payment. This page details the process.

Illustration of a safe and money

How often are tax credits paid?

Tax credit payments are usually made either four-weekly or weekly. You should tell HMRC which pay period you want; if you do not, they will automatically pay you every four weeks.

Tax credits are normally paid in arrears.

How long do I have to wait for payment?

HMRC will write to you and if you qualify for payments, the award notice they send you will tell you the date of your first payment and when you will get further payments. However, because of the way the HMRC computer system works, sometimes you might get your first payment before you get your award notice.

If you make any mistakes or leave information out of your claim, HMRC might contact you to get the missing information they need, which can mean you wait longer for your first payment while they deal with your claim.

We have a joint claim – who gets the tax credits payment?

In a joint claim if only one of you works, that person will get the WTC payments; if you each work the minimum number of hours to qualify for WTC, you can choose between you and your partner which of you receives WTC payments.

Often where you both work, it does not matter who receives payments of WTC in a couple. However, if you are on a low income and rely on WTC to get National Insurance credits the choice may be important because the WTC National Insurance credits are only awarded to a person who actually receives WTC. You can find out more our website for advisers.

Any payment of the childcare element of WTC will normally be paid with CTC to the main carer of the child or children.

If you get CTC only, then the person who is the main carer will be paid the CTC.

What kind of bank account do I need?

Your account needs to be any of the following:

  • a bank account
  • a building society account
  • a National Savings & Investments account (NS&I)

What if I do not have a bank account?

In September 2016, the rules were relaxed to make it easier for people to be able to open a basic bank account. If bank account details are not included on the claim form, HMRC will write to you asking for details within 4 weeks. If the details are not provided within that time, HMRC have the power to suspend tax credit payments.

You should contact HMRC if you have a problem getting a bank account to discuss if they can pay you in a different way.

Can I use someone else’s bank account for my tax credit payments?

The bank account needs to be one of the following:

  • in your name
  • in your partner's name
  • both in your and your partner's names
  • in the name of someone acting on your behalf
  • jointly in your name and in the name of someone acting on your behalf, or
  • in someone else’s name – but it is up to you to make sure you get the money from that person.

What if I have not received my payment?

If you have not received a normal payment that you were expecting, it is a good idea to speak to your bank to see if anything has gone wrong at that end. If not, you should call the HMRC’s tax credits helpline (GOV.UK website). It may be that you have changed your bank details or there has been a change in circumstances that has altered the amount of tax credits you get. If HMRC have made an error, they should be able to re-issue a payment, but they may need to check to see what happened if a payment has gone missing.

More information

This page gives a brief overview about tax credit payments. There is more information on the GOV.UK website including an online tool where you can manage your tax credits.

Tax guides

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