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Child Benefit

Key information

Child Benefit is money paid to parents or other people who are responsible for bringing up a child.

Applies to: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Age rules: There are no specific age rules for the person making the claim

Type of benefit: Non means-tested

Taxable: Not taxable, but Child Benefit could make you liable for a tax charge if you or your partner are high rate tax payers

See below: high rate tax payers and Child Benefit

Administered by: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

 

Index

You can read through this information sheet, or go directly to the sections you want to read by clicking on these links:

Who does it help?

You can get Child Benefit if you are responsible for a child who:

Rules are complicated for 19 year olds so you should seek advice if you have any concerns about entitlement for a child this age.

You do not have to have paid any national insurance contributions to get Child Benefit.

If both parents live together, Child Benefit is usually paid to the mother. If both parents do not live together, it is usually paid to the parent with whom the child lives.

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How much does it pay?

Child Benefit is paid at a higher rate for your oldest child. This is £20.50 a week. If you have other children, you get £13.55 a week for each of them.

Child Benefit is usually paid every four weeks but it can be paid weekly if you are getting Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or if you are a single parent.

If you get Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, and have been since before 6 April 2004 with a child element included, Child Benefit will affect the amount of Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance you receive.

If you are a high rate tax payer (you earn £50,000 or more) and you receive Child Benefit an income tax charge has been introduced as a way to reduce the value of the Child Benefit you get. See the bottom of this sheet for information about high rate tax payers and Child Benefit

Child Benefit is included in the Benefit Cap which limits the total amount in some benefits that working-age people can receive. See our Benefit Cap information page for more details.

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How do I make a claim?

You should claim Child Benefit as soon as your child is born or if a child comes to live with you.

Download a claim form from the HMRC website (link opens in a new window) or phone the Child Benefit Office for a claim form:

Telephone: 0300 200 3100
Textphone: 0300 200 3103

Welsh Language: 0300 200 1900

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What documents will I need?

You must give evidence of your child, for example, a birth or adoption certificate. You should also give your national insurance number. If you do not have a national insurance number, send in the claim form anyway to save delays. You may also be asked for proof of your identity such as a birth certificate, passport or driving licence.

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Can it be backdated?

Child Benefit can be backdated for up to three months if you would have been entitled to it earlier. It does not matter why your claim is late. Request this when claiming.

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Challenging decisions

If you disagree with the decision made on your benefit claim you can ask for a written statement of reasons. If you still believe the decision is wrong, for example due to incorrect information being used, you can ask for it to be looked at again, and/or appeal.

The time limits are strict, you will usually be given one month to dispute a decision, so it is important to seek advice and act quickly.

Further information on Challenges and complaints

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Change of circumstance

You must report changes in your circumstances which might affect your entitlement to this benefit.

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Further help

If you have problems with Child Benefit, you can contact the Child Benefit Helpline on: 0845 302 1444 in England,Wales and Scotland and 0845 603 2000 in Northern Ireland.

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High rate tax payers and Child Benefit

On 7 January 2013, a new income tax charge was introduced. It is payable if you have an individual assessable income for income tax of over £50,000 and you or your partner get Child Benefit.

The amount of Child Benefit you can claim and receive is not affected. It can still be paid to you or your partner even if one of you will then have to pay the income tax charge.

How much is the charge?

The amount of the charge will depend on how much over £50,000 your assessable income for Income Tax is.

  • If your income is between £50,000 and £60,000, the income tax charge will be 1% of your Child Benefit for every £100 of income between £50,000 and £60,000. The charge will never be more than the amount of Child Benefit you receive.
  • If your income is over £60,000 the charge will be equal to the full amount of your Child Benefit so you are no better off for receiving the benefit.
  • Couples can have a combined income of up to £100,000 and not be affected, as long as neither of them has an individual income of over £50,000. For example, if two members of a couple are each earning £45,000 they will not be affected by this change.

Any charge you have to pay will be based on your assessable income for Income Tax – that is, your taxable income after any allowable reliefs you may be able to claim (such as reliefs for pension contributions or charitable donations).

Gov UK has a Child Benefit tax calculator (link opens in a new window) and also has information about the various sorts of Income Tax reliefs you may be able to claim.

How is the charge paid?

The charge is paid through a self-assessment tax return. It is your responsibility to make sure that you pay this tax even if you are not contacted by HMRC.

You can decide not to receive Child Benefit if you do not wish to pay the charge and can change your mind at any time.

You will remain entitled to Child Benefit, even if you choose not to have it paid. This is in order to protect your entitlement to national insurance credits, which will count towards your State Retirement Pension entitlement.

For more information, see the HM Revenue and Customs information on the Child Benefit income tax charge (link opens in a new window)

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Last updated: 23 June 2014

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