Child tax credit can be worth thousands a year, depending on your household income and how many eligible children live in your household.
Read on to find out how much child tax credit you and your family can claim.
You can generally claim for any child living with you between the ages of 0 and 16
Who can claim child tax credit?
You can generally claim for any child living with you between the ages of 0 and 16, as well as young people up to the age of 20 in certain types of education or training.
This includes other people's children who live with you due to adoption, fostering or other reasons - as long as you pay for things like their food and toys.
Separated parents who share the care of their children cannot both claim child tax credit, though, as only one household can receive payments for each individual child.
In such cases, the Tax Credit Office will decide who should get the money after reviewing both claims.
However, if you have any other questions about your eligibility, the easiest way to find out is to call the Tax Credit Helpline on 0345 300 3900.
How do I apply for child tax credit?
When you have a baby, you can start to claim child tax credit for him or her immediately. And if you have more than one baby, for example twins, you can claim for each one.
To do so, call the Tax Credit Helpline and ask for a new claim form, or for details of how to add the new child on to your existing claim.
Once you receive the form, fill it in as soon as you can – including your Child Benefit number where possible – as payments can only be backdated for up to a month.
How much child tax credit am I entitled to?
Child Tax Credit was previously available to families with household incomes of up to about £40,000.
However, changes in the Budget mean that those with one child can now only claim if they earn less than £25,000, while those with two children are only eligible if they earn less than £30,000 or less.
Entitlements vary, and the easiest way to find out how much child tax credit you can get is to use the HM Revenue & Customs Tax credits calculator.
However, the maximum a couple with one child can receive over the course of a year is about £3,235 - made up of the "family element" of £545, paid to all eligible families with one or more kids, and the individual child's "child element" of £2,690.
Is there any other help available?
If your employer offers childcare vouchers, it is also worth making the most of this scheme.
Anything else I need to know?
It is vital to keep the Tax Credit Office up to date with any changes to your circumstances. If your childcare costs go down, a child leaves home, or (if you're in work) a change in your working hours, tell the Tax Office within one month.
Don't wait until the annual renewal. If you do, you risk missing out on your full child tax credit entitlement, or being overpaid and facing the nightmare of having to repay the money. You could even face a fine.
Take a look at MyFamilyClub’s guide to benefits for a simple break-down of what other benefits you may be entitled to. You might also want to check out our simple guides to Child Benefit, the Sure Start Maternity Grant, Maternity pay, and help with healthcare costs.