Guidance

Tax credits: working out income

Calculating income for tax credits claims or renewals.

Introduction

When you claim tax credits you’ll need to give details of your total income on your claim form. You’ll also need to work out your income when you renew your tax credits each year.

Usually, what you’re entitled to is based on your income for the last tax year (6 April one year to 5 April the next).

Your income includes:

  • wages as an employee, including any ‘employer benefits’ you might have had
  • profit from self-employment
  • other income, like interest on savings or pensions
  • money from state benefits unless they’re ‘tax free’ benefits

This guide tells you how to work out your wages, self-employment income and other income.

Employees

There are 3 steps to working out your total income.

Step 1: work out your gross pay

This is your total wages from all jobs that you had in the last tax year, before any tax and National Insurance deductions. If you’ve had certain employee benefits you’ll need to add these in, as well as any tips or strike pay.

Your employer should have given you a record of your gross pay on a P60 or P45 if you left before the end of the tax year. If you do not have a P60 or P45, check your final payslip, which should show your total pay to date.

Add up any of the following that apply to you, to get your total gross pay.

Add up these amounts Notes
Total wages Do not take off tax or National Insurance
Employee benefits For example, company car or goods they gave you
Tips Do not include if they are already in your taxable pay
Money you got because your job ended or changed Only include what you got that was more than £30,000
Strike pay from your trade union  
Money you made from stocks and shares that you got from your employment  
Payments for any work you did whilst in prison  
Earnings from outside the UK In British pounds*

*To work this out, use the average exchange rate for the last tax year. This will be the average exchange rate for the year to 31 March. You can use HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) exchange rate tables.

Step 2: what to take off your gross pay

To work out what to take off your gross pay, add up any of the following that apply to you, to get a total amount:

Add up these amounts Notes
Statutory Maternity, Paternity or Adoption Pay If you received more than £100 for a week, only include £100 for that week
Work expenses which related only to doing your job (do not include the cost of getting to and from work) Do not include if your employer reimbursed them
Fees and subscriptions to professional bodies or societies Do not include if your employer reimbursed them
Employee liabilities and indemnity insurance premiums Do not include if your employer reimbursed them
Agency fees if you’re an entertainer Do not include if your employer reimbursed them
The maintenance cost of tools for your job Only if agreed by your employer and HMRC - you’ll find the allowable amount on your P2 Coding Notice
Special clothes that are necessary to do your job - for example a uniform Only if agreed by your employer and HMRC - you’ll find the allowable amount on your P2 Coding Notice
Pension contributions not paid from your salary Include the gross amount*
Donations to charity you made using Gift Aid Include the gross amount*

*There’s a working sheet you can use to work out your pension contributions or Gift Aid.

Step 3: what you have left

Take the Step 2 total from the Step 1 total to get your total income. Put this on your tax credits claim form or annual declaration form in the ‘earnings as an employee from all jobs’ box.

Employer benefits

When you work out your gross pay as an employee, you need to include the taxable value of certain benefits you received from your employer.

Your employer will give you a P11D form which will tell you the taxable value of any benefits you received.

Form P9D and the £8,500 earnings limit were abolished from 6 April 2016. Form P9D only relates to tax year 2015 to 2016 and earlier.

Add up any of the following that apply to you, to work out what to include in your gross pay.

Add up these amounts Where to find the amount on your P11D
Mileage allowance payments over the tax free approved amount Section E of your P11D
Running costs your employer has paid for Section E or included in section N in your P11D
A company car Section F of your P11D (box 9)
Car fuel Section F of your P11D (box 10)
Expenses payments made to you unless they were business expenses Section J, M or N of your P11D
Goods and assets your employer has given to you, for example gifts of food and drink Section A of your P11D
Payments made by your employer on your behalf, for example if your employer paid your rent Section B of your P11D
Vouchers or credit tokens, for example company credit cards - do not include the cash equivalent of childcare vouchers Section C of your P11D

For help calculating the value of your benefits, use the worksheet in the guidance notes that came with your claim form or renewal pack. Or you can call the Tax Credit Helpline.

Self-employed people

There are 3 steps to working out your income from self-employment.

Step 1: work out your profit

Your profit is what you gave on your Self Assessment tax return for the last tax year. If you had more than 1 business, add up all of the separate business profits.

If you have not filled in your tax return, you’ll need to estimate your profit.

What else to include

Make sure your profit includes other income or profits your business received, for example rental income from a flat above a shop. Do not include this as ‘other income’ too.

Include any profit from working outside the UK, in British pounds. To work this out, use the average exchange rate for the last tax year. This will be the average exchange rate for the year to 31 March. Use HMRC exchange rate tables.

You can get help with working out your profit by calling the Self Assessment Helpline.

Step 2: what to take off your profit

To work out what to take off your profit, add up:

  • the gross amount of any personal pension payments
  • any trading losses from the same business you brought forward from a previous year
  • the gross amount of any donations to charity using Gift Aid

There’s a working sheet you can use to work out your pension contributions, Gift Aid or trading losses.

Step 3: what you have left

Minus the Step 2 total from the Step 1 total, to get your income from self-employment. Put this on your tax credits claim form or annual declaration in the ‘income from self-employment’ box.

If you made a loss, enter 0 in the box.

You may offset any losses that you have made in this year only, against any other household income for this year.

If you’ve just started out and your business had no income in the last tax year, leave ‘income from self-employment’ blank.

Other income

As well as what you earn from work, you’ll need to work out the total amount of any other income you’ve had. In most cases, you’ll only need to include what you’ve had that was more than £300.

Income to include over £300

Add up the full amount of the following types of other income, then take off £300.

Income from dividends

Include any UK company dividends you’ve received. Also add in the tax credit - shown on the dividend voucher supplied by the company. This could include:

  • gross amount of dividend income from company shares, authorised unit trusts and open ended investment companies - the amount to include is the total before tax

  • stock or scrip dividends where shareholders receive shares instead of a cash dividend - the amount to include is the total before tax

Exclude any capital gains exempt from tax.

Saving and investment income

Include the amount before tax is taken off. Do not include interest from tax-exempt investments like Individual Savings Accounts. This could include:

  • gross interest from banks and building societies and other deposit takers in the UK

  • interest from National Savings accounts

  • chargeable event gains, if for instance your life insurance policy matures in year - the amount of the gain will be shown on the certificate issued by your insurer

Property income

Include income from property in the UK that you own or rent. This could include:

  • profit from renting or leasing out land and property (if your rental property made a loss, you can use working sheet TC825 to help you work out what to enter)

  • Rent-a-Room Scheme income above £7,500 or £3,750 if you’re a joint owner

State pensions

Include:

  • State Pension
  • Widow’s Pension
  • Widowed Mother’s Allowance
  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance
  • Industrial Death Benefit

Do not include the Christmas bonus, winter fuel payment, or war pensions.

Occupational or personal pensions

Include the full amount before any tax was deducted. You can find this on your P60 or other certificates of pension paid.

Also include any annuity payments from a pension scheme.

If your pension includes an extra amount for a work-related illness or injury, call the Tax Credit Helpline.

Income from trusts, settlements and estates

You can get the figure from form R185 that the trustees or administrators will have given you. Include the amount before any tax was taken off (add together the ‘net’ amounts and ‘tax paid’ or ‘tax credit’ amounts).

Foreign income

For example:

  • income from investments and property overseas
  • social security payments from abroad
  • foreign pensions - include 90% of the full amount

Include the gross amount, before any tax, whether or not it came into the UK.

You should include any foreign income in British pounds. You can take off any banking charge or commission paid when converting foreign currency.

To convert foreign income into British pounds, use the average exchange rate for the last tax year. This will be the average exchange rate for the year to 31 March. You can use HMRC exchange rate tables.

If you need any help, you can contact the Tax Credit Helpline.

Notional income

Notional income is income that you’re treated as having which you may not in fact have.

Include Notes
Trust income that under Income Tax rules is treated as the income of another person For example, investment income of a child where you’ve provided trust funds of more than £100
Income you didn’t take, so you could get tax credits or more tax credits  
Income that you were entitled to, but didn’t apply for For example, a taxable social security benefit
Employment income you could have had For example, because you worked for free, or for less than the going rate
Capital that’s treated as income For example, if you hold shares in a UK company, and they gave you new shares (a ‘stock dividend’) instead of a cash dividend

For help working out notional income, you can contact the Tax Credit Helpline.

Income to include in full

You should include the following income amounts in full (do not deduct £300):

  • Adult Dependants’ Grant paid to students with a partner or a dependent adult
  • dependants’ grants for students in Scotland
  • taxable miscellaneous income, for example copyright royalties paid to you for a book when you’re not a professional author

What not to include

Do not include:

  • maintenance payments received from a former partner
  • tax credits payments
  • student loans
  • student grants, except the Adult Dependants’ Grant or any dependants’ grant in Scotland
  • income your children have had, unless it’s taxable in your or your partner’s name

Working out your total other income

To get the final figure:

  • add up all the amounts to include over £300 - add up the full amounts, then take £300 away
  • then add in all the amounts to include in full

Enter the final figure on your tax credits claim form or annual declaration in the ‘other income’ box. If you end up with a minus figure, enter 0.

More help

For help working out your other income, use the worksheet in the guidance notes that came with your claim form or renewal pack. Or you can call the Tax Credit Helpline.

Published 2 April 2014
Last updated 18 April 2018 + show all updates
  1. We have clarified types of other income to include when working out your total income for tax credits.
  2. This guidance has been updated to remove references to form P9D. Form P9D only relates to tax year 2015 to 2016 and earlier.
  3. There are text amendments to Self-employed people, step 2 and step 3.
  4. First published.