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HMRC internal manual

Tax Credits Technical Manual

Decision Making, Joint or Single claims, Couples where only one partner is in the UK: Leaving the UK

Tax Credits (Residence) Regulations 2003, Reg 4 Leaving the UK

Where one member of the couple leaves the United Kingdom (UK) temporarily leaving their partner and children behind, the person who left the UK continues to be treated as present in the UK for the first 8 weeks of any absence. This can be extended to 12 weeks in specific circumstances, for instance illness or death.

For an explanation of what ‘temporary absence’ means and when the 12 weeks may apply see TCTM02040 and TCTM09372.

In those circumstances the couple are able to make a joint claim to tax credits and any joint award can continue in payment

Where their absence from the UK is not temporary, or where the period for which they are treated as being present in the UK under temporary absence rules has elapsed, the person not in the UK cannot be treated as being in the UK.

At that point, the couple cannot make a joint claim and any joint award must cease.

The person remaining in the UK can make a new claim as a single person and any subsequent award will be based on their individual circumstances and is dependent on that person meeting the entitlement conditions.

Example - temporary absence affects claim/award

A UK national works in Saudi Arabia for 3 months at a time. His absence is therefore a temporary absence. His partner and children remain in the UK whilst he’s working away. When he comes home on leave the couple make a joint claim to tax credits and any award will continue until he’s been absent form the UK for 8 weeks. Once the 8 weeks has expired their joint claim will end and his partner should make a single claim. When he returns home any single award will end and they should make a new joint claim.

Example - temporary absence doesn’t affect award

A woman goes to visit relatives in America for 6 weeks leaving her partner and children in the UK. Her absence was therefore a temporary absence. Whilst away she becomes ill and is unable to return home for a further 4 weeks. As her extended absence beyond 8 weeks was due to illness and she returns to the UK within 12 weeks of leaving their joint award is not affected.

Example - absence not a temporary absence

An unmarried man decides to leave his long term partner and move permanently to America. As his absence was from the start expected to exceed 52 weeks it cannot be regarded as a temporary absence. The joint award he has with his partner will not continue for the first 8 weeks of his absence. His partner should claim as a single person immediately. However, on arrival the man is refused entry to America and sent back to the UK. His partner reluctantly agrees to take him back. She can no longer continue to claim as a single person and should make a fresh joint claim with her partner from the date they started LTAHAW again.