Can I claim for my child aged 16 or over?
We explain the basic rules about child tax credit (CTC) on our CTC page on the main LITRG website. This page tells you about claiming CTC once your child reaches the age of 16.
The Government is gradually introducing universal credit (UC), a new benefit which will eventually replace tax credits, and some other social security benefits. Universal credit is now available across the UK and most people are no longer able to make a brand new claim for tax credits and are expected to claim UC (or pension credit) instead. Existing tax credit claimants are expected to be moved across to universal credit in a managed exercise between 2020 and 2023. This will follow a pilot involving up to 10,000 people who will be moved between July 2019 and July 2020. You can find out more about this in our Universal Credit section.
In simple terms, for tax credits a child is under the age of 16; between their 16th birthday and the following 31 August (or on 31 August if their 16th birthday falls on that date), they will be counted as a ‘qualifying young person’ for tax credits whether or not they are in full time education or training.
After this date, to continue to be treated as a qualifying young person for tax credits, they must be under 20 and in full time non-advanced education or approved training. You can also continue to get CTC for a young person if they are registered with certain agencies whilst looking for work or training or the MOD. We explain each of these in more detail below.
To claim for them until the age of 20, the young person must have started or enrolled on their course by their 19th birthday.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will automatically stop CTC for a child from 1 September following their 16th birthday. You will need to contact HMRC if your child is staying on in education or approved training on 1 September, and subsequently as they turn 18 and 19 years old, to ensure your payments continue.
For universal credit (UC), once a child reaches age 16 they become a qualifying young person and can be included in a UC claim up to (but not including) the 1st September following their 16th birthday. After that the rule is slightly different because, provided they remain in full-time non-advanced education or approved training and they were enrolled on, or started, the course before they were 19, they can only be included up to (but not including) the 1st September following 19th birthday. (Note: this is different to child benefit and to child tax credit, where a qualifying young person can be included in a claim until they reach age 20 as long as the course started before their 19th birthday.)
You can still get CTC for your child up to their 20th birthday if they are in full time non-advanced education. Your child needs to have started, enrolled or been accepted onto a full time non-advanced course before their 19th birthday.
They must be studying at a school or college, or their studies may be elsewhere (for example, formal home study) providing they were studying there prior to their 16th birthday and it is approved by HMRC. The course of study must also not be one that the young person is pursuing because of his or her employment.
Full-time study means on average not less than 12 hours a week spent during term-time in tuition, supervised study, exams and practical work. The 12 hours includes gaps between courses, but not meal breaks or periods of unsupervised study.
Non-advanced education includes:
- an ordinary national diploma;
- a national diploma or national certificate of Edexcel;
- A-levels (AS and A2 levels) or similar qualifications;
- Scottish highers or group awards
- NVQ and other vocational qualifications up to Level 3
- Traineeships as part of the 16-19 Study programmes in England.
Any qualifications above this are classed as ‘advanced’ and you cannot claim CTC. Advanced education includes studying at University for a degree. If education is provided as part of your child’s employment it will not count for CTC purposes.
There is some information about levels of education on the GOV.UK website.
You can still get CTC for your child up to their 20th birthday if they are doing approved training. Your child needs to have started, enrolled or been accepted onto an approved course before their 19th birthday.
Approved training should be unpaid and includes:
- Scotland – Employability Fund programmes or Get Ready for Work (if started before 1 April 2013)
- Wales – Foundation Apprenticeships, Traineeships
- Northern Ireland – Training for Success: Peace IV Children and Young People 2.1
If training is provided to the young person because of their employment, it cannot count as approved training.
CTC will usually end on the last day of the course, often the day of their last exam. But if they decide to go on to further education, for instance at university, then CTC can continue until 31 August after the end of their course or they reach age 20, whichever is the earlier.
Until their 18th birthday, if the young person leaves a course or training programme, entitlement to CTC will normally stop when they leave. You must notify HMRC within one month that they have left full time education or approved training otherwise you may face a penalty.
But CTC can also be paid for a further 20 weeks if the young person registers for work or training with any of the following:
- in England – the local careers service, Connexions or local authority support service
- in Scotland or Wales – the local careers service
- in Northern Ireland – the careers service of the Department for Communities, the Department for the Economy or the Education Authority
- the Ministry of Defence – if your child has applied for and is waiting to join the Armed Forces
- a similar organisation to others in this list in any European Economic Area country, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein.
You must inform HMRC within three months of your child leaving education or training (if your child registers for work or training with one of the above providers) in order to get this 20-week extension. The 20-week extension period applies from the day the young person leaves the course or training programme. You must also tell HMRC if your child leaves the programme before the end of the 20 weeks.
If they leave when they are 18 or 19, entitlement will stop when they leave education or training.
For more information on claiming CTC for young people aged 16 or over, check the GOV.UK website.
You cannot claim CTC for a young person in the following circumstances:
- if they leave education or approved training
- they start claiming certain benefits in their own right.
There are also situations where you may no longer be treated as responsible for a child or young person. You can find out more about this on the CTC page on the LITRG website.
The advice provided on our advisers' website.
From 6 April 2017, a child element is not included for a 3rd or subsequent child who is born on or after 6 April 2017 who is included in a tax credit claim, unless an exception applies. The child element will continue to be paid for all qualifying children born before 6 April 2017 and the 2 child limit does not apply to the child disability element or to the childcare element in working tax credit or to child benefit. You can read more about the 2 child limit policy on our main LITRG site.