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Campaigners issue alert over tax credit changes

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Tax credit claimants are being urged to contact HMRC if they want to continue receiving working tax credit.

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) is warning a number of groups of tax credit claimants that they need to contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if they want to continue receiving working tax credit.

Up until 5 April 2012, a couple with children have qualified for working tax credit (WTC) if one person works at least 16 hours a week. But from 6 April, couples with children will be required to work at least 24 hours a week between them, with one person working at least 16 hours a week, in order to continue to qualify for WTC.

Consequently HMRC will stop working tax credit for most couples with children who do not work at least 24 hours a week between them, although their child tax credit will continue.

There are a number of exceptions to this new requirement. Anyone who qualifies for WTC in another way should continue to receive WTC by working at least 16 hours a week from April 2012. This applies to people who:

• are aged 60 or over, or

• qualify for the disability element of WTC.

There are four other situations where the new 24 hour rule will not apply. One person only needs to work at least 16 hours if the other person is:

• incapacitated (meaning they are in receipt of certain benefits due to ill health),

• an inpatient in hospital,

• in prison, or

• entitled to carer’s allowance.

The last exception was announced only recently after a coalition of charities, led by LITRG, wrote to the Minister asking for an extension of the exceptions to cover carers.

Couples who fit into these categories must contact HMRC themselves to make HMRC aware of this, on order to continue to get WTC.

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