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1. What is Child Benefit?

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 earn over £50,000 - see the high rate tax payers and Child Benefit page in this guide.

Administered by: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

 

Reviewed: July 2017

2. Can I get Child Benefit?

You can get Child Benefit if you are responsible for a child who:
•    is under 16; or
•    is aged 16 or 17 and has left education or training and meets Child Benefit 'extension period' rules (HMRC link opens in a new window); or
•    is aged between 16 and 20 and on (or enrolled on) a full time, non advanced educational course or an approved training course (HMRC link opens in a new window) - which they started, were enrolled on, or accepted on before turning 19.

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.

 

Reviewed July 2017

3. How much Child Benefit will I get?

Child Benefit is paid at a higher rate for your oldest child. This is £20.70 a week. If you have other children, you get £13.70 a week for each of them.

You receive Child Benefit for every child or qualifying young person who you are responsible for, even if your other benefits are limited by the two child limit.

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 or your partner have an individual income of £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 High income Child Benefit tax charge.

Benefit Cap

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 guide for more details.

How will I be paid Child Benefit?

Child Benefit will be paid directly into your Bank, Building Society or Post Office account or by Simple Payment if you are unable to open or manage one of these or a similar account.

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.

Child Benefit and other benefits

Child Benefit counts in full as income when calculating your entitlement to other means-tested benefits.

 

Reviewed: July 2017

4. How do I claim Child Benefit?

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

What documents will I need to claim Child Benefit?

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.

When will my Child Benefit claim begin?

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.

Change of circumstances

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

 

Reviewed July 2017

5. How do I challenge a Child Benefit decision?

If you disagree with the decision made on your child benefit claim you can ask HMRC to look at the decision again- this is called a 'mandatory reconsideration'.  If you still think the decision is wrong you can appeal to an independent tribunal.

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

If you have problems with Child Benefit, you can contact the Child Benefit Helpline on: 0300 200 3100 by telephone or 0300 200 3103 by textphone.

 

 

Reviewed July 2017

6. High income Child Benefit tax charge

If you or your partner earn over £50,000, you may be subject to the high income Child Benefit tax charge. You can check whether you are over the £50,000 limit on the GOV.UK website.

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 adjusted net 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 income tax charge.

Any charge you have to pay will be based on your adjusted net 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).  You can find out how to work out your adjusted net income on the GOV.UK website.

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 (link opens in a new window).

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 payments 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 (Carer’s Credits), which can count towards your State Retirement Pension entitlement.

If you have a baby or become responsible for a child or young person, you may decide you do not want to receive Child Benefit because you do not want to pay the tax charge.  You should still make a claim for Child Benefit to protect your entitlement to national insurance credits should you need them.

For more information, see the HM Revenue and Customs information on the Child Benefit income tax charge

 

Reviewed July 2017