Clawing back child benefit

If your family receives Child Benefit and you are a high earner (£50,000 or more per year), you need to pay a special tax charge to claw back some or all of the Child Benefit received.

It is your responsibility to tell HMRC that you need to pay the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC), as HMRC’s computer systems can’t match up claimants for Child Benefit and their high-earning partners or spouses. HMRC did write to a number of taxpayers in 2013 to tell them about the HICBC, but your family’s circumstances may have changed since then.

In order to assess how much of the HICBC you need to pay, HMRC will ask you to complete a self-assessment tax return. If you are sent a notice to complete a tax return, don’t ignore it as penalties will mount up if the return is not submitted on time. Note: it is your own income, as the higher earner, which is taxed to claw back the Child Benefit, not the income of the person who receives the Child Benefit.

That person can elect to stop receiving Child Benefit by contacting the Child Benefit office by phone or post, or by accessing their personal tax account at www.gov.uk/personal-tax-account. The benefit claim will remain live so the payments can recommence, or be paid for earlier periods if the child still qualifies.

It is important to make a claim for Child Benefit for every child, as it is that claim which triggers the issue of a National Insurance number when the child reaches the age of 15 years and 9 months. The Child Benefit claimant also has their own National Insurance record updated with NI credits for years in which they are not earning and the child is aged under 12.