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Tax Credits: The Two Child Limit

Before April 2017 Child Tax Credit (CTC) awards contained an additional amount for every child you were responsible for but this has now changed so that in most cases additional amounts of Child Tax Credit will not be paid for a third or subsequent child if that child was born on or after 6 April 2017.

If you already get CTC for more than two children, don’t worry you’ll carry on getting the same amount. The changes to tax credits only apply to people who have children born on or after 6 April 2017. The same rules apply in Universal Credit (UC), but if you already have three children and you’re making a new claim on or after 6 April 2017, you’ll be told to claim tax credits instead.

If you are getting CTC or UC for two children and you have a third child born on or after 6 April 2017, you will usually not get extra money, called a child element, for the third child. You will receive Child Benefit for each child as normal and you can still receive additional amounts for a disabled child or claim childcare costs for any number of children. If you stay on CTC/UC, once your oldest child no longer qualifies, you would still get CTC/UC for two children as you would then have only two children eligible for the child element of CTC/UC.

When the Tax Credit Office (HMRC) or Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) look at how many children you have, it means the number of children you are claiming for. It doesn’t matter if some of those children may be your partner’s children and not yours, or vice versa. If you’re responsible for three children as a couple, then you would only get CTC/UC for all 3 if they were all born before 6 April 2017. However, if you claim for a young person who has a child of their own on or after 6 April 2017, you will be able to claim CTC/UC for the baby even if that means you are claiming for more than two children.

There are some other limited exceptions where you can get a child element for a third child born on or after 6 April 2017, such as adoption, multiple births, non-consensual conception and kinship care situations. We’ve covered those here.

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