Consumer Rights: Last call to renew your tax credits ahead of Wednesday's deadline

If the taxman doesn't receive the form on time, you may end up losing out on benefits, repaying cash – and could even face paying a penalty

If you get working tax credit or child tax credit, don't ignore that renewal pack any longer. If your claim has to be renewed, post it today. HMRC has been sending out renewal forms in stages and everyone should have one by now. For most claimants the form has to be back by Wednesday. If you need to renew but don't do so by 31 July, your payments could stop, you may have to repay all the tax credits you've received so far this tax year, and you might even find yourself with a penalty.

The tax credit office uses the renewal forms to check that it has the right information about you and whether anything has changed that could affect the amount you're entitled to. The form is also important from your point of view because the office uses it to make sure that you get the right amount for the coming tax year and were paid the correct amount for the past tax year. If you are paid more tax credits than you're entitled to, you will usually have to pay the money back.

If you claimed tax credits in the last tax year – even if you didn't get them because your income was too high to qualify, or you only got them for part of the year – you should have a renewal pack. Some packs will have just an Annual Review notice (TC603R). You'll get the notice on its own if you get only the family element of child tax credit, if you claimed tax credits but didn't get them because your income was too high, or you got income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-based employment and support allowance or pension credit for the whole of the last tax year. If your pack has only the Annual Review Notice, your claim will be renewed automatically, but you should check that all the information on it is correct. However, your pack may have an Annual Review Notice plus an Annual Declaration form (TC603D or TC603D2). The Annual Declaration form is the one that has to be sent back to renew your claim. You cannot renew until you have received your renewal pack and you cannot renew online.

Send the completed Annual Declaration form (TC603D or TC603D2) to the Tax Credit Office in the reply envelope provided, or call the Tax Credit Helpline if you want to avoid being late with the renewal. If you do renew over the phone, keep a written note of everything you are told. If you are a couple and have made a joint claim, you need to give details of both your incomes and circumstances.

If you haven't received your renewal pack, contact the Tax Credit Helpline on 0345 300 3900 for the forms. You will then have 30 days to renew or report a change in circumstances. Your payments will carry on in the meantime, but if they are based on out-of-date information you may not get the correct amount.

Even if you don't have to renew your claim you do still need to tell the Tax Credit Office straightaway if your circumstances change, your income is different from what is shown on the Annual Review notice, or there are any mistakes or details missing on the forms. Don't forget to tell the office about changes or you could face a big bill for overpayments or miss out on money you are entitled to.

It usually takes up to eight weeks to deal with your renewal. The Tax Credit Office will then send you an award notice with a final decision for the last tax year and a separate award notice showing what your payments will be for the new tax year, including any overpayments or underpayments. The Tax Credit Office may write to you to check that you have renewed correctly and may ask you for evidence, for example, of your income. So keep any relevant paperwork safe. If you don't get your award notice within eight weeks, contact the Tax Credit Helpline.

A few words of warning from Jane Moore, technical manager at ICAEW (the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales), who says: "If you have a high income, watch out that HMRC may have decided to take you out of the tax credits system unless you tell them specifically that you want to stay in. If you don't have final income figures for 2012/13 [for example, you may be self-employed and not have your final accounts yet], you must still do something by 31 July.

"You can fill in the Declaration form with estimated figures and send it back. Your claim will be renewed and your payments will continue, though you should send in final figures by 31 January 2014."

**

Q: I bought a new suite of furniture at the end of last year. At the time my old one was falling apart and I was working, so the shop arranged a loan for me. But now I'm out of work, I'm struggling to pay the rent and the bills and can't keep up the repayments on the loan. The finance company says it is going to take away the suite while the shop says that it is nothing to do with it. I know now that I should never have signed the finance agreement. I've learnt my lesson but I don't know how to get the finance company off my back. I've got rid of my credit cards and don't want to borrow from anywhere else. I could probably only get a loan from some kind of loan shark anyway, but I still need something to sit on. Can you suggest anything that I can do?

TP, Glasgow

A: If you are in breach of a credit agreement – as in your case because you're behind with your repayments – the first thing to do is check the type of agreement and the details of the circumstances in which, how and when the creditor is entitled to end the agreement. With most agreements they have to send you a default notice setting out what the breach is, how you can stop further action being taken, what will happen if you don't and the time limits. If you can't come up with the money, the creditor may be entitled to terminate the agreement, demand early payment of the money you owe, or repossess goods. Usually, the lender will need a court order to repossess unless you've paid less than one third of the total amount. Keep paying your rent and bills and try negotiating smaller loan repayments you can afford. If that fails or you simply can't pay anything and the lender goes ahead and repossesses, with or without a court order, they will sell the suite at auction where prices are unlikely to cover the total owed. You will have to pay the shortfall plus any court costs. In that case your only option is to ask if you can try to sell the suite yourself as you may get more for it. You could pre-empt any further action by ending the agreement yourself and giving the suite back (check exactly how much you will have to pay if you do this). You could then trawl the recycling sites, where people offer goods for free, for a replacement.

moneyagonyaunt.com

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

    £60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

    Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

    IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

    £24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

    Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

    £50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker