Tax Credit Renewal Period Underway
The Tax Credit renewal period is well underway and all claimants will receive their renewal pack by 30th June 2015. There are several ways to renew, and each method has its advantages and disadvantages, which we will discuss below.
- Automatic Renewal. Certain groups of claimants will receive a copy of their award notice for the 2014/15 tax year with the code ‘TC 603 R’. This means their tax credit claim will renew automatically, however it is vitally important that they check their award notice carefully as they are still required to notify HMRC if there have been any change to circumstances or if something on the award notice is incorrect. Changes can be reported by telephone, post or online.
- Postal Renewal. All claimants have the option to renew by post if they wish and a paper renewal form is included in the renewal pack. Postal renewal is straightforward and is often the preferred option for claimants without easy access to a telephone or for those wishing to avoid potentially costly telephone calls to the helpline, or indeed for those that have difficulty understanding the form as it allows them to complete it with assistance from an advice service or family member etc. The obvious disadvantage to this method is the potential for the form to get lost. As claimants can wait several weeks for their final award notice to be sent, it may be some time before a claimant is aware that their renewal has not been processed. In fact, many do not realise until their payments suddenly stop, as HMRC believe they have not completed their renewal by the deadline. Therefore, if a claimant decides to renew by post they may wish to send the form by Recorded Delivery to ensure they have evidence that they sent the form, and that it was received by HMRC. Claimants should also telephone the helpline if they have not received their final award notice within 8 weeks of completing their renewal.
- Telephone Renewal. Many claimants prefer to renew by telephone as it is quick and relatively easy. However, whilst the actual renewal is quick, unfortunately getting through to an adviser in the first place is often difficult. Many struggle with the voice recognition software the HMRC use on the helpline, particularly where English is not their first language. Waiting times are often excessive and frustratingly for some, calls can be dropped or cut off when there are no advisers available. Aside from the frustration of a long wait it can also be costly, particularly if a claimant needs to phone back due to their call being cut off meaning they have repeat the voice recognition process before even joining the queue again.
- Online Renewal. The newest form of renewal, and arguably the most straightforward. HMRC ran a pilot scheme last year to a targeted number of claimants and it was incredibly successful. This year they have further developed the process and rolled it out to the majority of claimants. Online renewal is cross-platform, meaning that it can be completed on smartphones or tablets as well as PC’s or laptops and allows the claimant to review the information they have entered before submitting. It also gives instant notification of receipt after submission. For added peace of mind, claimants may wish to screen-print or photograph the notification. To renew online claimants will be directed to the gov.uk verify website, a new service developed to verify identity online in partnership with organisations such as the Post Office and Experian. Some claimants may experience difficulty with this service, such as those without a passport or driving licence. However it is important to be aware that you can still renew online even if you cannot use the verify service. You simply proceed through the questions as normal and then click the alternative link provided.
The Advice NI Tax and Benefit Service continue to provide advice and assistance on HMRC related issues, including Tax Credits, to the public and other organisations. We can be contacted on our Freephone helpline 0800 988 2377 or by email email@example.com during the hours of 9am-5pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 9am-7pm Tuesday and Thursday.