Tax credit claimants may have received renewal forms from HMRC which urged them to renew by July 31, 2021.
With this in mind, the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) issued a reminder that the credits renewals process finalises tax credit awards for the tax year that has just ended (2020/21) and it acts as a claim for the current tax year (2021/22).
Claimants who do not yet know their actual income for 2020/21 must still submit an estimate of their income by July 31 – and they need to contact HMRC again by January 31, 2022 to either confirm the estimate is correct or replace it with the actual figures.
LITRG noted even if someone did not receive any payments during 2020/21, or they have since stopped their claim, if they claimed tax credits at all during the 2020/21 tax year, they will receive papers from HMRC. They must follow HMRC’s instructions to finalise their claim for 2020/21 and, if necessary, make a claim for the current tax year.
Some claimants will receive two forms (one with a red line across it) with accompanying guidance notes. These are known as “reply-required” renewals and the claimant must respond to HMRC by July 31.
Other claimants will receive just one form (with a black line across it) and these people (known as “auto-renewals”) will have their claim for 2020/21 finalised and renewed automatically for 2021/22 using the details HMRC already hold.
These claimants need only contact HMRC by the July 31 deadline if something on the form is wrong or they have had a change of circumstances.
Ms Todd continued: “It is important to read the guidance notes carefully, particularly the parts that explain what counts as income for tax credits.
“For example, some coronavirus support payments need to be included as income for tax credit purposes, others do not.
“Furthermore, some of the renewal documents will show income figures that HMRC have obtained from employers through the tax system but these may not include the deductions that are allowable for tax credit purposes.
“For example, during 2020/21, many more people were working from home and able to take advantage of tax relief for home working expenses. This expense is deductible from employment income for tax credit purposes but it will not usually show in the figures HMRC replay in the renewal paperwork.
“People should read the notes carefully to see if any of these deductions apply to them.
“If using the online system to renew, claimants should ensure they enter their income figure after any allowable deductions and follow carefully the notes that come with the paper pack.
“Claimants who have already renewed have until July 31 to give HMRC an updated income figure for 2020/21 if they have missed off any deductions or have made any mistake, such as forgetting to include certain coronavirus support payments.”
Affected claimants can renew their tax credits online, via the HMRC app, by telephone or through the post.
HMRC’s online service can be found through the gov.uk website, either via a personal account (if one is set up) or by going directly to the “Manage your tax credits” service.
Ms Todd concluded: “Unfortunately, this time of the year sometimes sees an increase in fraudulent activity which often targets the most vulnerable taxpayers.
“Claimants should remember that tax credits can only be renewed using the official HMRC phone number, gov.uk website, the HMRC app or by post to HMRC.”