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Changes to Tax Credits

Newsletter issue - February 2011.

The system of Child and Working Tax Credits is due to be reformed over the next few years, and it is expected a new benefit called Universal Credit will replace the familiar Tax Credits from April 2014.

Before then there will be some significant cuts in the benefits paid to many tax credit claimants, phased in over the next three years. The following table summarises the rates and thresholds that will be cut or frozen in 2011/12 compared to 2010/11.

Child Tax Credit

Family element: no change at £545
Baby element: decrease from £545 to nil

First income threshold: decrease from £16,190 to £15,860
Second income threshold: decrease from £50,000 to £40,000

Working Tax Credit

Childcare element:
Maximum costs for one child: no change at £175 per week
Maximum cost for all children: no change at £300 per week
Percentage of costs covered: decrease from 80% to 70%
First income threshold: no change at £6,420
First withdrawal rate: increase from 39% to 41%
Income disregard: decrease from £25,000 to £10,000

The income disregard provides a buffer for changes in income, so overpayments of tax credits do not arise where income varies within this threshold year on year. The reduction in this threshold is likely to adversely affect families with fluctuating incomes, such as the self-employed. In the future, in order to avoid a claw-back of tax credits, the claimant will need to finalise their self-employed profit figures as close to the tax year end as possible.