Amazon's Alexa can now help with questions about tax credit renewals, HMRC has said.

A new service allows people to ask Alexa to "open HMRC" for help and information about a change of circumstances, payment information or a renewal.

Customers cannot renew their tax credits using the service and it is intended as an extra level of support for those with questions, and as an alternative to an internet search or a phone call to find the answer.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), which estimates the service could help more than three million people renew their tax credits by the deadline of Tuesday 31 July, said no personal information is stored on Alexa and it won't be able to answer personalised questions.

For more information see our Tax Credits guide.

What are Tax credits?

Tax credits are paid via the tax office directly into bank accounts, and anyone aged over 16 who normally lives in the UK can apply to get them.

There are two types of credits:

  • Child Tax Credits - anyone with children, whether working or not, could be eligible
  • Working Tax Credits - anyone who works but has a low income, whether they've got kids or not, could be eligible

The amount you could get depends on a number of factors including your income, the number of children you have and whether you have a disability.

Failure to renew your tax credits before the 31 July deadline will mean payments are stopped and you may have to repay the money you have received since April.

See our guide for more information on how to renew your tax credits.

What does HMRC say?

Angela MacDonald, HMRC's director general for customer services, said: "As the 31 July deadline for tax credits renewals approaches, customers can feel reassured that they can renew their benefits online or via the HMRC app at a time that suits them.

"And if they need to access help and support - Alexa can help customers find out about what to do when they receive a renewal pack, how to change their circumstances, or how to find out about payment information."